Google’s Africa internet cable to first arrive in Togo 

A picture of Togo’s coastline. Source: Inros Lackner

Google has announced that Equiano, a subsea internet cable running through Portugal to South Africa, will first land in Togo. Equiano is expected to land in South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena later in the year, connecting the continent with Europe.  

This announcement marks a milestone in Google’s plan to provide affordable internet access in Africa by building global infrastructure to help bring faster internet to more people and lower connectivity costs. Last October, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced a plan to invest $1billion over 5 years to support digital transformation in Africa, of which project Equiano is part of.

Map of Africa indicating Lisbon, Togo, and Cape Town landings with branching units
Map of Africa indicating Lisbon, Togo, and Cape Town landings with branching units

For Togo which currently ranks as the sixth-best country in Africa regarding ease of doing business, the landing of Equiano opens up more possibilities and opportunities. It’s expected that once connected to Equiano, it will provide 20 times more bandwidth than any other cable currently serving West Africa, helping Togo attract even more investments and further boosting its vibrant startup culture.

“Broadening the access to high-speed internet is a fundamental part in our national digital development process as we strive towards achieving the objectives set out in our Digital 2025 Strategy,” Cina Lawson, Minister of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation for Togo said.

According to an economic impact assessment  of Equiano in Togo from Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics, it is estimated that the subsea cable will add approximately 37,000 new jobs between 2022 and 2025, and increase Togo’s economic output by an additional USD 351 million during the same period.

Nitin Gajria, Managing Director of Google Sub-Saharan Africa commented, “The landing of Equiano affirms Google’s commitment to the African continent, to support Africa’s digital transformation. We are thrilled that Togo will be Equiano’s first landing on the African continent, as it aligns with the country’s continuing efforts to promote digital inclusion for Africa.”

This announcement is coming a year after Google shut down project Loon, a cost-effective solution to the difficult challenge of bringing internet access to people in underserved remote areas. The shutdown of Google’s Project Loon brought up questions about the fate of Google’s other internet projects targeted at Africa. The progress made so far hints that Equiano will be different from Loon.