Google Cable to Africa

People of West Africa can expect their quality of internet connection to improve in the coming years. Google is in the process of laying an undersea cable that connects Portugal to South Africa, with stops in Togo, Nigeria, and Namibia along the way.

The cable is being fully funded by Google and is their third private international cable. Following a pattern of naming their cables after historical luminaries, this one is called Equiano, after Nigerian-born Olaudah Equiano. Equiano, who lived in the 18th century, was sold and resold as a slave. Eventually, he bought his freedom, wrote a book that depicted the reality of slavery, and joined the abolitionist movement in London.

The west coast of Africa which the cable will follow

The west coast of Africa which the cable will follow (source)

The countries of West Africa have low internet penetration rates when compared internationally, but with large numbers of young people, there is plenty of demand for improved access. Google’s original plan had Nigeria as the cable’s first stop. However, the Togolese Government, which hopes to turn Togo into a tech hub, was able to convince Google that a branch should extend to Togo.

The cable arrived in Togo this month. It is expected to not only increase internet speeds but also reduce prices. Google predicts the cable will indirectly create 37 000 jobs and boost GDP by $193 million by 2025.

Sources: reuters.com, cloud.google.com/blog, africanews.com, aljazeera.com, wikipedia.org

For source links, see the article on ESLNewsStories.com

Worksheet with activities

Audio

Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Luminary (n) - an important person
  • Depict (v) - to show
  • Abolitionist (n) - a person in the movement to get rid of slavery
  • Internet penetration rate (n) - the percentage of people in an area that use the internet
  • Hub (n) - a central place with lots of activity
  • Convince (v) - to change someone’s mind or to make them believe something
  • Branch (n) - a part that goes outward from a main line
  • Boost (v) - to increase
  • GDP (n) - the value of goods and services produced by a country in one year (Gross Domestic Product)
  • Predict (v) - to say what will happen in the future

Discussion

Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. Is your internet connection fast enough? Is it reliable? Is it reasonably priced?
  2. What do you know about Google? Do you use their products or services?
  3. Is internet access a necessity in the modern world? What problems would a person have without internet access?
  4. How digital is the community you live in? Are many services available online?
  5. What other places around the world are tech hubs or want-to-be tech hubs? Why do they want to focus on technology?
  6. Do you think Togo will succeed at becoming a tech hub? Why or why not?
  7. What do you think Olaudah Equiano would think about an undersea cable being named after him more than two hundred years after he lived?
  8. Slavery was abolished, but it still happens in the modern world. How is this possible?
  9. What jobs exist in your country because of the internet?
  10. Improving digital infrastructure, like internet access, is one way to increase economic growth. How else can we increase economic growth?