Google announces Umoja: first undersea cable connecting Africa and Australia

The new cable aims to enhance connectivity for consumers and businesses, starting in Kenya and passing through several African countries before reaching South Africa.

 Electronics, Mobile Phone, Phone

Google is set to build the first subsea fiber-optic cable connecting Africa and Australia, named “Umoja”, TechCrunch reports. This announcement comes as Google competes with AWS and Microsoft Azure in the cloud services market, and it follows recent widespread outages in Africa caused by faulty undersea cables.

Umoja is expected to enhance connectivity for both consumers and businesses. The cable starts in Kenya, passing through the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It ends its land route in South Africa, where Google’s first African data center opened in Johannesburg earlier this year. As of now, the terrestrial section, completed with the help of Liquid Intelligent Technologies, is done. The underwater segment to Perth, Australia, is in progress, with no set completion date.

Google has also invested in other African cabling projects, such as Equiano, connecting Portugal with Nigeria and South Africa. Additionally, Google announced a cable connecting South America with Asia-Pacific earlier this year. Though no specific timeframe for Umoja’s completion was given, submarine cable projects typically take about three years, suggesting a possible completion around 2026.

Why does it matter?

In response to recurring issues caused by cable failures, big tech companies like Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft are heavily investing in subsea cables to improve service quality. This week, for example, Microsoft announced a $1 billion investment in a new data center in Kenya, which aims to expand cloud-computing services in East Africa, promising improved connectivity and reduced latency for users.