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(Special Report) What Google didn’t tell Nigerians on landed Equiano cable

Whereas the Nigerian Google team last week, announced the arrival of its subsea cable, Equiano, in Lagos, Nigeria, the group lead by Google’s West Africa Director, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, said “The submarine cable which is landing in the second city in Africa, after Togo, is expected to improve broadband penetration, and quality of service as well as advance the digital economy in Nigeria by 2025.

Also, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo Olu averred that Google’s Equiano cable will add $10 billion to Nigeria’s GDP by 2025

Business Hilights recalls that just like other landed cables before now, the cable, named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist, is among the first in a series of landings in Africa for the subsea cable and is expected to run from Portugal along Africa’s west coast to South Africa.

However, industry observers, who barred their minds on the Google Cable, queried if the cable is going to traverse across Nigeria in isolation to first generation subsea cable that were still stocked in Lagos shores.

Analysts say Google team, neither the Minister of Trade and Investment, Chief Niyi Adebayo failed to explain to Nigerian how the cable is going to beat the intractable Right of Way cost in states it intends to reach or serve.

Also, they observed that no Google team member or any government officials said anything on how they will beat insecurity while laying the cables outside Lagos.

Findings show that several landed subsea cables before now have not been able to move out of Lagos due to insecurity, cost of Right of Way which the government has not managed well and other factors. Also, these are among the reasons why many NCC registered Infracos cannot do much and the regulator is not sanctioning them either for remaining redundant.

Besides, Google failed to tell Nigerians how it will manage the growing fears on the side of telecoms (who had subsea cables) that tech giants are entering their business from the back door. The question the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is going to answer is if Google is a licenced data service provider or search engine?

However, in her notes at the welcoming ceremony of the cable in Lagos, Google’s West Africa Director, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, said ‘The decision to invest in Equiano is based on five key factors:

 

Ageing cable infrastructure

Africa is home to over 20 submarine cables, some of which began operations almost 20 years ago and are nearing the end of their lifecycle. Equiano is a state-of-the-art cable that leverages next-generation technology to provide significantly more capacity than the last set of cables built to serve the continent.

Growing demand for data

Africa’s rapidly growing population and internet user base – combined with more intensive use of the internet – meaning that the current submarine cable systems will be unable to meet demand beyond the next few years. Investing today means Google is well prepared to serve tomorrow’s users.

Better performance

Low latency forms the cornerstone of a good user experience. The increased bandwidth Equiano will bring to Africa will allow for more latency-sensitive products to function and be developed.

Redundancy

Africa currently has relatively few submarine cables connecting it to other geographies. The majority of countries on the continent are served by only one or two cables. As outlined in the case study on West Africa above, if or when cables are damaged, break or undergo repairs, users can experience significant connectivity disruptions. Building new cables such as Equiano, therefore, improve the consistency and reliability of connectivity.

Create diverse and scalable paths to reach more users

As part of the construction design of Equiano, several branching units will be placed on the seafloor along Africa’s Atlantic coast. By having more control over the design, construction, and upgrade process of the cable system, Google will be able to quickly deploy additional branches to bring more content closer to end-users.

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