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Internet Services in West Africa, Central Africa Paralyzed by Sea Cable Damages

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A widespread internet breakdown disrupted telecommunications across West Africa on Thursday, following damages to vital undersea cables – the MainOne and ACE cables. These cables serve as essential arteries for data transmission in the region, impacting mobile carriers and internet service providers.

Reports from Bloomberg revealed that internet outages swept across West Africa due to faults in underwater cable lines, as confirmed by internet analysis firms including NetBlocks, Kentik, and Cloudflare. The exact cause of the damages remains under investigation.

Internet Services in West Africa, Central Africa Paralyzed by Sea Cable Damages

Doug Madory, Director of internet analysis firm Kentik, described the situation as a “devastating blow to internet connectivity along the west coast of Africa,” projecting weeks of degraded service.

According to NetBlocks, eight West African countries experienced disruptions, with Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Benin being the most severely affected. Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon also faced connectivity issues.

The incident follows a recent episode in the Red Sea where three telecommunication cables were severed, attributed to an anchor from a cargo ship sunk by Houthi terrorists, as determined by the US and the Internet Cable Protection Committee.

InternetHGC Global Communication estimated that 25% of the affected traffic in the area relied on the damaged cables, which has now been rerouted through alternative paths, albeit with increased latency.

Also, read: South Africa Vows to Arrest Any of Its Citizens Fighting in Israel’s Defense

Major telecommunication groups in Africa, including MTN and Vodacom, acknowledged the impact of the underwater cable faults on their services. Vodacom attributed the disruptions to “multiple undersea cable failures between South Africa and Europe,” while MTN assured efforts to reroute traffic and expedite repair processes.

Microsoft Corp also reported disruptions to its cloud services and Microsoft 365 apps across Africa, citing the impact of damaged fiber cables on the west coast.

Internet Services in West Africa, Central Africa Paralyzed by Sea Cable DamagesThe recent debacle echoes a similar incident in 2023 when the West African Cable System and the South Atlantic 3 sustained damage following an underwater landslide. Last month, Meta’s 2Africa subsea cable project reached Nigeria, aiming to connect 32 African countries and enhance economic development and digital connectivity across the continent, including the growth of 4G and 5G services.

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