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South Africa expects job creation, economic upswing from Equiano

By , ITWeb
Africa , South Africa , 02 Sep 2022
The Google Equiano undersea cable system arrived at the Openserve cable station facility in Melkbosstrand, Cape Town, on 8 August.
The Google Equiano undersea cable system arrived at the Openserve cable station facility in Melkbosstrand, Cape Town, on 8 August.

Africa’s highest capacity subsea internet cable, Equiano, has reached its final destination in South Africa.

Stakeholders believe the landing in South Africa, a partnership between wholesale infrastructure provider Openserve and Google, will have a significant economic impact for the country, and will help to drive digital transformation across the continent.

Equiano landed at Openserve’s cable station facility in Melkbosstrand in Cape Town on 8 August 2022.

An event was held in Cape Town this week 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 datacentres.

South Africa is the final stop for the cable which first landed in St Helena one year ago. Branches of the cable have also landed in Namibia, Nigeria and Togo.

Speaking at the event in Melkbosstrand, Telkom Group CEO 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.”

Equiano runs from Portugal, along the west coast of Africa to South Africa.

According to Openserve and Google, this 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 stakeholders claim is 20 times the capacity of the last cable built to serve the region.

Country director for Google South Africa, Dr Alistair Mokoena added: “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 $7bn 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.

Openserve CEO Althon Beukes commented: “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.”

Cloud attraction

In May this year Dan Kwach, Managing Director of Africa Data Centres East Africa Region, said that cable landings in Africa is likely to attract major cloud vendors to the continent.

Kwach said that international investors are keeping a close eye on Africa’s cloud computing market, as the ubiquity of smartphones, adoption of business software and general economic growth prospects have driven up demand for datacentres on the continent.

According to the Africa Data Centre Market Report 2022 global cloud service providers such as AWS, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle are expanding their presence with new cloud regions.

There is an opportunity for vendors to grow in suburban areas and increase the demand for hyperscale datacentres in Africa.

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