Nowadays, Project Equiano, often referred to as Google’s attempt to establish high speed internet connectivity between Africa and Europe, hardly needs an introduction. The project, which was put forth in 2019, has made yet another landing in one of Africa’s rising economies.
For its third landing, Equiano was brought ashore in Namibia, a higher-middle income country sitting on the coasts of Southwestern Africa. Paratus Group, a full-service telecommunications network company with relative footprints across the continent, worked with Google to bring the undersea cable to Namibian grounds.
The partnership between Paratus and Google was announced in February 2021, and the cable landing station (CLS) was, reportedly, completed in September last year. However, the CLS’ internal fit, which includes cages, security, raceways, conduits, cabinets, and overall security, were finalised in January 2022.
Equiano is expected to be completed in the last quarter of this year, at which point it will deliver up to 20 times more internet connection capacity than was previously available. It made its first landing in Togo, a Francophone West African outlier market, after which it touched down in Nigeria, the largest economy in the continent at large.
Per an economic impact assessment report by Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics, Equiano’s arrival and completion will potentially increase Namibian internet speeds by more than 2.5x internet speed and internet penetration by 7.5 percent, in the course of the next three years.
Namibia has higher internet connection levels—at 40.5 percent compared with an average of 29 percent for sub-Saharan African countries—but has relied upon the West Africa Cable System (WACS) for its international connectivity until now,” says Barney Harmse, CEO of Paratus Group.
“The landing of the Equiano cable will significantly increase Namibia’s international bandwidth capacity as it is four times greater than WACS. This will not only ensure better stability of connectivity in the country, but also lower latency and higher speeds in global transmission of data,” he adds.
Namibia, which is also in the process of receiving its first ever carrier-neutral data center, courtesy of Paratus, will see Equiano indirectly create 21 000 jobs in Namibia between now and 2025. This will be, in part, driven by the expansion of the digital economy and related business sectors.
Retrospectively, the about-to-be-launched Armada Data Centre is the largest of such facilities in Namibia, accruing an estimated cost of USD 8.2 M. With Paratus at the helm, the data center is meant to upend the work Equiano is doing, ultimately expanding the Namibian digital ecosystem.
After Namibia, South Africa is likely Equiano’s next (and most likely, final) landing.
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