Subsea cable failures to blame for poor internet Connection

Niël Terblanché

Namibians reliant on the internet voiced severe frustration as a significant internet service disruption has left numerous countries across West and Central Africa wrestling with connectivity issues, following failures in several subsea cables.

The cause of the outage, which occurred on Thursday, remains undetermined, sparking widespread concern among the affected nations, including Namibia and Lesotho.

Seacom, a major operator of African subsea cable systems, confirmed the disruption to its West African cable service.

In response, the company has redirected its customers to an alternative route via the Google Equiano cable, a process that occurs automatically to mitigate the impact of such disruptions.

The interruption again stressed the vulnerability of Africa’s internet infrastructure, which relies heavily on undersea cables for international data transmission.

Isik Mater, director of research at NetBlocks, an organization that tracks internet disruptions globally, described the incident as “amongst the most severe” in recent years.

NetBlocks’ data indicated a major disruption to international transit routes, likely centred around the subsea network cable landing points.

The outage has affected at least a dozen countries, with Ivory Coast experiencing particularly severe disruptions, raising alarms over the potential impact on essential services.

Africa’s reliance on mobile internet traffic, more so than any other continent, exacerbates the fallout from such outages.

Businesses across the region, which depend on internet connectivity to deliver services to customers, have been left in a precarious position.

According to cybersecurity and internet governance monitor Netblocks, countries like Liberia, Benin, Ghana, and Burkina Faso have been heavily impacted.

Cloudflare, an internet infrastructure company, reported ongoing major disruptions in several countries, including the Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, and Niger, suggesting a pattern to the disruptions spreading from north to south across the continent.

Similarly, South African telecoms operator Vodacom has cited undersea cable failures as the cause of connectivity problems affecting South Africa’s network providers.

The incident pointed out the fragility of Africa’s internet infrastructure and the cascading effects of such disruptions, as networks scramble to reroute around the damage.

As investigations continue, the focus turns to identifying the cause of the cable failures and implementing measures to prevent future disruptions.

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