On 18 March 2022, the Republic of Togo officially welcomed the submarine cable “Equiano” from the giant Google. The inauguration ceremony presided over by President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé took place at the autonomous port of Lomé. Togo thus becomes the first African country to receive this device which offers 20 times more bandwidth than any other cable currently serving the continent.
Deployed for the first time in Africa, the Equiano submarine cable is a latest-generation fibre that aims to meet the requirements of the national digital transformation strategy set out in the Togolese government’s 2020-2025 roadmap. In partnership with the CSquared group, this project will once again strengthen digitisation in West Africa. According to the government, it will have a direct impact on internet connectivity in Togo, bringing improved and affordable high-speed internet access to millions of Togolese and people in the West African region. Once operational, Equiano will enable the country to connect to a global telecommunications network linking South Africa to Portugal.
Google’s Managing Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Nitin Gajria, said; “The landing of Equiano is a concrete expression of Google’s commitment to the African continent to support Africa’s digital transformation. We are delighted that Togo will be the first Equiano landing point on the African continent, as it is consistent with the country’s ongoing efforts to promote digital inclusion for Africa. We look forward to working closely with the Togolese government and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Transformation as they continue to build their digital infrastructure,” he said. The President of the Republic welcomed the project, saying that, “This infrastructure from internet giant Google aims to connect Europe to Africa and will permanently transform the country’s digital landscape.
Implementation of the Equiano project
Project implementation Equiano will have to take into account two phases. One for the construction of the submarine cable and the other for the management and resale of international capacity to internet service providers, both in Togo and in neighbouring countries. So the Equiano cable will run from Portugal (Lisbon) to South Africa, along the African coast of the Atlantic Ocean, connecting cities such as Lomé (Togo), Lagos (Nigeria), Swakopmund (Namibia) and Cape Town (South Africa). Similarly, there will be connections in place for the subsequent phases. Thus, commissioning is planned by the end of 2022.
It should also be noted that CSquared is a company incorporated under Mauritian law, specialising in the sale of international (internet) capacity on the wholesale market. It is owned by Google, Japan’s Mitsui, South Africa’s Convergence Partners Fund, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC, part of the World Bank Group), with a capital of $100 million.
37,000 jobs in sight
According to an economic impact study by Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics, the Equiano project could create around 37,000 new jobs between 2022 and 2025. Then Togo will be able to considerably reduce its unemployment rate and thus offer work opportunities to young people. Similarly, the study mentions US$351 million that will be generated by the infrastructure, which will automatically increase the country’s economic output. After Lomé, the ship, which pulled the cable from Lisbon to the Togolese capital, will sail to Lagos in Nigeria before heading to South Africa for general commissioning.