By Fom Gyem
The Equiano cable, named after Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, is a cutting-edge infrastructure based on space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology, with 12 fiber pairs and a design capacity of 144Tbps, roughly 20 times more network capacity than the previous cable built to serve this region.
Olaudah was born in the Eboe (Igbo) region of the Kingdom of Benin (today Southeast Nigeria) and was enslaved as a child, according to his memoir. He was sold as a slave to a Royal Navy officer and transported to the Caribbean. After that, he was sold twice more, but in 1766, he purchased his freedom.
Submarine internet cables, mostly known as fiber optic cables too, are one of the main reasons you can read this article while simultaneously streaming content from YouTube and Netflix and uploading content to WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook.
Submarine cables have enormous potential benefits, but we won’t see them unless appropriate measures are taken to capitalize on their capabilities. Terrestrial cables assist in bringing Internet capacity to our homes and offices as subsea cables arrive on the coast.
Though Africa has a lot of submarine cable capacity, it has not affected download speeds or streaming quality hence the need for additional financing and expertise to bridge the gap.
Africa had a submarine cable capacity of 100 Tbps by 2020, but only used 10 percent of it. Your current mobile download speed may very well be slightly higher or lower than 18.7 Mbps, depending on your location. It will most likely be much slower if you do not live in a city.
In terms of the internet infrastructure, Africa remains the most underserved region on the planet. Penetration in the United States is at 29 percent, while it is at 40 percent for the entire continent (including North Africa). By 2020, the percentage of people who used the internet in Nigeria was around 35.5 percent.
Starting in Portugal, the Equiano cable travels over 12,000 kilometers along Africa’s West Coast, passing through Lomé, Togo, Lagos, Nigeria, Swakopmund, Namibia, Rupert’s Bay, Saint Helena, Melkbosstrand and South Africa.
The cable has a total of 12 fiber pairs. It can handle up to 144 terabits per second of data (114tpbs). As a result, the new network has the potential to increase internet speed sixfold from 11 Mbps in 2021 to 65 Mbps in 2025, double internet penetration, and slash internet prices by 21 percent across Africa.
Africa’s digital transformation and internet economy are expected to grow from USD 115 billion in 2020 to USD 180 billion in 2025 and USD 712 billion by 2050, thanks to a well-developed connectivity infrastructure.
The Equiano cable system’s Nigeria branch is the first verified affiliate. It is to be installed in phases, according to the Environmental Sustainability Impact Assessment document. The West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) Nigeria Limited partnered with Google as the landing partner.
Prof. Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has pledged to continue driving policy initiatives that encourage infrastructure investment in the telecom industry. He hailed Google LLC, the WIOCC, and other investors for their efforts to deepen connectivity and boost the country’s growth.
Similarly, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof. Umar Dambatta, the management, staff as well as ICT experts noted that the project would further increase internet connectivity in Nigeria.
Fom Gyem writes from Wuye District, Abuja.