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Undersea cable disrupts Nigerian internet

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Cable disruption leads to transaction delays and telecom network failure.

Telecommunications companies and banks in Nigeria are experiencing disruptions in their services due to an internet outage caused by damage to international undersea cables providing connectivity. Recent reports indicate that crucial undersea cables were disrupted close to Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, resulting in widespread outages throughout West and South African nations. The cables impacted include the West Africa Cable System (WACS), the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne , and SAT3 in West Africa. This causes Nigeria to experience widespread issues with bank networks, leading to transaction processing delays caused by internet outages.

On March 14th, 2024, numerous telecom users, notably MTN subscribers, expressed dissatisfaction with their data usage. MTN has acknowledged customers’ concerns about their internet connection and provided a detailed explanation to address the issue. They regret any inconvenience their customers may face with slow internet speeds and difficulty accessing data services. International undersea cables in East and West Africa have been damaged, leading to disruptions. Efforts are underway to repair the cables and restore connectivity. And they encourage people to stay tuned for more information.

Financial institutes are also impacted by the disruption.

Sterling Bank  is also one of the banks that experienced network disruptions due to cable damage, resulting in the inability to process banking transactions. The information gathered shows that at one bank branch in Lagos State, it was evident that all customers trying to access the hall were being denied entry, thus confirming the situation. Customers were informed by the banks that their systems are experiencing network issues across all branches, including the app. They were reassured that visiting a different branch was unnecessary. Customers were advised to attempt their transactions later in the day.

Media sources have also stated that the cable damage has resulted in a significant internet issue in South Africa. According to My Broadband, Darren Bedford from the WIOCC group stated that ongoing outages are affecting several undersea cables along the West coast of Africa. Bedford assured that the Equiano cable’s capacity remains unaffected, while WIOCC also possesses capacity on the EASSy cable along the East Coast. With this backup capacity in place, Bedford stated that the outage would not affect customers.

Vodacom addresses the cable failures’ impact on SA-Europe route.

Furthermore, Vodacom , a prominent telecommunications company in South Africa, has acknowledged the disruptions caused by undersea cable failures affecting connectivity between South Africa and Europe. As a result, South Africa’s network providers, including Vodacom, are facing intermittent connectivity issues impacting some of their customers. Vodacom expressed regret for any inconvenience caused and has asked for their customers’ understanding and patience as they actively work towards resolving the problem. The disruptions highlight the importance of reliable undersea cable infrastructure for ensuring seamless communication and internet services between continents.

The West Africa Cable System (WACS), Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT3 are vital infrastructure projects significantly enhancing Africa’s connectivity to the global digital economy. These submarine cables play a significant role in providing reliable and high-speed internet services to countries across the continent, improving communication networks and supporting economic growth. By connecting Africa to Europe and beyond, these cables have helped bridge the digital divide and empower businesses, governments, and individuals with access to information, resources, and opportunities for development.

Related Article: Africa internet penetration rate is lagging

WACS and ACE are significant African submarine cable systems, boasting multiple landing points along the West African coast and pivotal in digital connectivity. MainOne is a privately owned cable system linking Nigeria and Ghana to Europe, while SAT3, one of Africa’s oldest submarine cables, connects South Africa to Europe. Collectively, these cables serve as critical infrastructure for bridging the digital divide in Africa, meeting the increasing demand for connectivity, and facilitating economic development and growth across the continent.

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