• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Cable repairs to take 8 weeks as internet disruptions persist in West Africa

Cable repairs to take 8 weeks as internet disruptions persist in West Africa

Repairs to the recently damaged subsea cables that disrupted Internet connectivity in Nigeria and other West African countries will now take 6 to 8 weeks.

In a recent update, MainOne cited the extent of the damage as the reason for the revised timeline. It noted that the repair vessel had already loaded the required spares. This new timeline is different from the 5 weeks the firm gave earlier.

Also, Chris Wood, chief executive officer (CEO) of West Indian Ocean Cable Company, revealed that repairs to the cable depend on the extent of damage and weather conditions. He noted that the total repairs are expected by mid-April or the end of April.

Despite the extended timeline, MainOne emphasised that it has restored services and enabled regional interconnection last week to ensure stability in the digital ecosystem across the region. The firm said, “We are also actively working with our maintenance partners, vessel owners, and permitting authorities to expedite the repair of our submarine cable. We are optimistic that our cable will be repaired as planned and services fully restored…”

On March 14, 2024, multiple cable cuts off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal disrupted internet connectivity in Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, and others.

These cable cuts are said to have been caused by seismic activity on the seabed, which impacted four cables, bringing internet capacity to the region from Europe. The affected cables included the West African Cable System (WACS), African Coast to Europe (ACE), SAT3, and MainOne.

These cuts impacted internet-dependent services, including bank services in the affected region. To mitigate the impact of this cut, operators have had to reroute their traffic to other functional subsea cables. Earlier, MainOne ruled out human activity and said seismic activity on the seabed may have caused cable breaks impacting internet access.

In a virtual interview with journalists, Wood, the chief executive officer (CEO) of WIOCC, who landed the Equiano cable in Lagos, confirmed that landslides may have caused the cuts.

He highlighted that three ships have been mobilised for repairs. “One is coming up from South Africa, the other is in Cape Verde, and the third is from the UK,” he said. He disclosed that repairs would cost a couple of million dollars.

Wood explained that earlier cable cuts in the Red Sea affected restoration efforts on the continent. “So, three cables were cut in the Red Sea, which also serves Africa. If the Red Sea cable cuts hadn’t been done, more traffic could have been restored going south from Nigeria around South Africa and back up the Red Sea. This incident was compounded by the Red Sea cuts, with three cables affected too,” he stated.

Wood noted that most internet traffic has now been redirected to Google’s Equanio cable. Explaining why Google’s cable was unaffected, WIOCC CEO said: “Equiano hasn’t been hit is it is laid much further offshore and at the moment only lands in Nigeria and Togo, and then it goes straight out offshore for several 100 kilometres.”

“The effective networks have now migrated to the Equiano cable, and the timeline to get back to a fully resilient network is probably about four weeks from now,” he continued.

Even though the internet is largely back in Nigeria, countries like Ghana are still experiencing downtimes, Wood highlighted. This is because of the small number of cable landings in the country. “There is minimal capability to restore those networks at this time because there isn’t the same level of network diversity.

“We are working with our partners to land Equiano in Ghana and with the government and regulator there to acquire the correct licenses…”

The Nigerian Communications Commission recently reported that six countries, including four West African countries, were still suffering from the outages caused by the submarine cable cuts.

According to the submarine cable map, about eight subsea cables bring Internet capacity to Nigeria: Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), Glo-1, SAT3, West Africa Cable System (WACS), MainOne, Equiano, 2Africa, and Nigeria Camerron Submarine Cable System (NCSCS).