Google and CSQuared announced that the Equiano subsea cable system has landed in Lomé, Togo, marking the cable's first stop along Africa's Atlantic coast. The Equiano cable will run from Portugal along the West Coast of Africa — connecting Europe to Togo, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, and St. Helena. The Togolese company CSquared Woezon is the landing partner in Togo for Google's Equiano cable system.
The project, landing Equiano Cable in Togo, is implemented under a partnership among Google, CSquared, Société d’Infrastructures Numériques (SIN) and the Togolese Republic Governement. Société d’Infrastructures Numériques (SIN) and CSquared form a joint-venture in major digital infrastructure transformation initiative that lands Google’s Equiano Cable in Togo as the country takes steps to become a leading logistics and services hub in West Africa.
CSquared was orignally a project within Google, started in 2011. The project aimed to build metropolitan fiber optic networks, which would be later leased to mobile operators (MNOs) and ISPs on a wholesale model, and as a neutral operator of shared infrastructures. The long-term vision for Google was to increase global Internet penetration in sub-Saharan Africa, but also to reduce Internet access costs on the continent by investing in the basic infrastructure segment. In October 2017, in order to accelerate the scope of the project, Google entered into a joint venture with Mitsui & Co (Japan), Convergence Partners (South Africa) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC, World Bank Group). Then, CSquared became an independent company with these four shareholders, putting their expertise and experience to work. Today CSquared owns and operates open-access broadband networks in Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and Liberia.
CSquared Woezon is a Togolese company with a minority public shareholding, 56% owned by CSquared and 44% owned by Société d’Infrastructures Numériques (SIN). SIN was created in 2016 and fully owned by the Togolese Republic Governement. SIN holds strategic public telecommunication assets and ensures to establish viable partnerships for the operation, management and maintenance of the fiber optic infrastructure in its possession.
CSquared Woezon will be in charge of maintaining and operating the Equiano submarine cable as well as the existing e-Government and Communauté Electrique du Bénin (CEB) terrestrial optic fiber networks located on the Togolese territory. Regarding the sale of international capacity, CSquared Woezon will provide open access to all national and regional operators on an objective, transparent and non-discriminatory commercial basis, in accordance with industry standards and international best practices.
Togo’s relatively small economy and limited coastline of 51 kilometres have hampered the development of international submarine connectivity. The country currently has one subsea cable, the West Africa Cable System (WACS) which landed in 2012, and satellite-based broadband connections offered by several ISPs. Other than the new Equiano cable connecting Togo to Europe and South Africa, Maroc Telecom’s Moov Africa has announced to build the Maroc Telecom West Africa cable system which will link Morocco to Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin and Gabon. But the progress towards its completion is unclear yet - initially it was expected to be ready for service in August 2021.
Equiano’s landing in Togo will not only stregthenTogo’s ability to successfully build and support digital infrastructure that will reap long-term positive economic benefits for Togo, it will additionally yield benefits for its West African neighbors.
Togo currently ranks as the sixth-best country in Africa regarding ease of doing business and Equiano, once switched on, will offer 20 times more bandwidth than any other cable currently serving West Africa, helping the country attract even more investments and further boosting its vibrant startup culture. According to an economic impact assessment of Equiano in Togo from Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics, it is estimated that the subsea cable will add approximately 37,000 new jobs between 2022 and 2025, and increase Togo’s economic output by an additional USD 351 million during the same period.