Google has announced that its second Africa Equiano undersea cable has landed in Lagos, Nigeria. This comes a month after the first cable landed in Togo. It was the first in a series of landings on the continent for the subsea cable, which will run from Portugal along Africa’s west coast to South Africa.
While many subsea cables are named after historical luminaries, the Equiano cable has special resonance for Nigeria. It’s named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist, so its landing in Lagos, Nigeria is like a homecoming.
Nigeria is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy. Still, the share of people using the internet stood at approximately 35% as of 2020 – double in 2012. Across much of the country, people lack affordable, reliable & quality access, limiting their ability to benefit from and contribute to the digital economy.
Since 2017, the Nigerian government has been actively working on its digital transformation programs as part of plans to grow its domestic sectors. These initiatives have proven pivotal to the success of many industries in the country, especially the startup space. In the last five years, startups in Nigeria have produced five unicorns (startups valued at over a billion dollars). Businesses are also benefiting significantly from internet platforms, with total e-commerce annual expenditure predicted to climb to $75 billion by 2025, up from its current projection of US $12 billion, Google reports.
Though a great deal of progress has been made, studies suggest that faster internet connections, better user experiences, and reduced internet costs will help accelerate these benefits.
“Landing this cable comes as part of critical stages leading up to its deployment later this year, and it is expected to deliver up to 20 times more capacity than the region’s prior cables. We’ve worked with established partners and in-country experts to ensure that Equiano has the greatest potential effect in Nigeria and throughout Africa,” Juliet Ehimuan, Google Director, West Africa said in a statement.
A recent economic impact assessment conducted by Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics states that Equiano’s arrival in Nigeria is expected to result in faster internet speeds and significantly improve people’s online experiences. Internet speeds in Nigeria are expected to grow almost sixfold by 2025, and retail internet prices are forecasted to decline by 21% over the same period.
The same study found that by 2025, real GDP in Nigeria is forecast to be USD 10.1 billion higher than it otherwise would have been without Equiano and that the cable would indirectly generate roughly 1.6 million new jobs between 2022 and 2025.
“We are partnering with multiple key telecom players, including our landing party, the West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC), where Equiano lands to ensure that the cable can reach more businesses and end-users across Nigeria and the African continent more broadly. With Equiano, we look forward to being an even more integral part of the digital transformation journey in Nigeria,” Google announced.