Johannesburg – Africa’s highest capacity subsea internet cable, Equiano, has reached its final destination in South Africa.
The landing in South Africa, a partnership between Openserve, Africa’s largest wholesale infrastructure provider, and Google will have a significant economic impact on the country and help to drive digital transformation across the continent.
Equiano landed at Openserve’s cable station facility in Melkbosstrand in Cape Town on August 8 2022, and an event was held in Cape Town today to officially mark the cable’s landing.
Openserve’s cable station facility serves as the SA landing station and will offer terrestrial services, connecting the cable landing to South African carrier-neutral data centres.
South Africa is the final stop for the cable which first landed in St Helena a year ago. Branches of the cable have also landed in Togo, Nigeria and Namibia in 2022.
Speaking at the event in Melkbosstrand, Telkom Group chief executive officer Serame Taukobong said, “The connectivity that will be unlocked through Equiano will have an immense impact on the ICT sector and the domestic economy overall.
“The capacity that Equiano offers will make connectivity more accessible and affordable, helping to bridge the digital divide in SA. Making connectivity more attainable will also allow small businesses to embrace digital innovation and fully step into the digital economy.”
The connectivity that Equiano will provide will go a long way in bridging the digital divide, the gap between those who have access to technology and the internet and those who do not, and help unlock digital growth opportunities for South African SMEs.
The so-called digital divide – the gap between those who have access to technology and the internet and those who do not – is of concern to tech experts in African nations, which have some of the world’s lowest internet connectivity rates on the continent.
Studies show that improving connectivity between formal and informal sectors – including through digital access – can bridge both spatial and economic divides.
Equiano runs from Portugal, along the West Coast of Africa to South Africa. It is the first submarine cable to incorporate optical switching at the fibre-pair-level as opposed to the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching.
The undersea cable has a capacity of 144 terabytes per second, which is 20 times the capacity of the last cable built to serve the region.
Country director for Google South Africa, Dr Alistair Mokoena said, “Google is committed to helping drive digital transformation in Africa and the Equiano cable is a major part of that commitment.
“The cable will not only improve internet speeds and affordability, but will help to support the growth of the digital economy in Africa. In South Africa, we anticipate that it will indirectly contribute to the creation of 180 000 jobs and increase GDP up to $7 billion (R120.9bn) by 2025.”
“While Google is investing in the Equiano undersea cable alongside a variety of partners and carriers, the tech company has partnered with Openserve to bring the South Africa landing to life. Through this partnership, Openserve will be able to use and benefit from the cable’s additional capacity.
Equiano, the 8th cable & Min #EbrahimPatel @DTI lists 8 reasons why we’re celebrating: Connects us to the world, economies, contributes to regional integration, info repository, boosts investments in infrastructure & jobs, de-risks internet access & enables us to have fun pic.twitter.com/HlaoBoekA4— Google in Africa (@googleafrica) September 1, 2022
Openserve chief executive Althon Beukes spoke on the financial benefits this endeavour would provide for consumers as it is expected to have a positive impact on the pockets of end-users.
“The Equiano undersea cable will ultimately transform the connectivity experience in South Africa from internet service providers to the end-user. ISPs will be able to provide lower retail prices and the end-user will enjoy seamless connectivity, lower latency, and faster internet speeds,” Beukes said.