With the launch of the first fibre route to directly connect Africa with Australia – Umoja – Google says it will increase digital connectivity, accelerate economic growth, and deepen resilience across Africa.

Anchored in Kenya, the Umoja cable route will pass through Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa – including the Google Cloud region – before crossing the Indian Ocean to Australia. Umoja’s terrestrial path was built in collaboration with Liquid Technologies to form a highly scalable route through Africa including access points that will allow other countries to take advantage of the network.

Umoja, which is the Swahili word for unity, joins Equiano in an initiative called Africa Connect.

Google says Umoja will enable African countries to connect more reliably with each other and the rest of the world. Establishing a new route distinct from existing connectivity routes is critical to maintaining a resilient network for a region that has historically experienced high-impact outages.

“Access to the latest technology, supported by reliable and resilient digital infrastructure, is critical to growing economic opportunity,” says Meg Whitman, US ambassador to Kenya. “This is a meaningful moment for Kenya’s digital transformation journey and the benefits of today’s announcement will cascade across the region.”

Kenya’s president, William Ruto, adds: “I am delighted to welcome Google’s investment in digital connectivity, marking a historic milestone for Kenya, Africa, and Australia. The new intercontinental fiber optic route will significantly enhance our global and regional digital infrastructure. This initiative is crucial in ensuring the redundancy and resilience of our region’s connectivity to the rest of the world – especially in light of recent disruptions caused by cuts to sub-sea cables.

“By strengthening our digital backbone we are not only improving reliability, but also paving the way for increased digital inclusion, innovation, and economic opportunities for our people and businesses,” he adds.

In addition to today’s infrastructure announcement, Google will sign a Statement of Collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Information Communications and The Digital Economy to accelerate joint efforts in cybersecurity, growing data-driven innovation, digital upskilling, and responsibly and safely deploying AI for societal benefits.