• Saturday, April 13, 2024
businessday logo


Internet outage: Nigeria seeks regional action after undersea cable cuts

submarine cables

Nigeria wants West African countries to team up and protect shared telecommunications infrastructure and diversify connectivity to ensure uninterruptible connections in the region.

This follows recent undersea cable cuts that affected connectivity in many countries in the region. Dr Aminu Maida, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, made this call in a statement delivered at the 21st West Africa Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly (WATRA) Annual General Meeting (AGM), held recently in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Maida, whose message was delivered at the WATRA AGM by Nnenna Ukoha, the deputy director of Public Affairs, NCC, stated that the recent submarine cable cuts that resulted in nationwide outages on multiple networks in 12 African countries have raised the urgent need for the subregion to establish a mechanism to protect itself from damage to submarine infrastructure and its attendant impact on the subregion.

Referring to a report by Cloudflare, an IT service management firm, the NCC boss noted that about six countries, including four West African countries, are still suffering from outages.

“Securing telecom infrastructure is paramount for fostering Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and enhancing investor confidence in the West African sub-region. The reliability and resilience of telecommunications networks are crucial factors that investors consider when evaluating regional opportunities,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

Maida explained that by ensuring the security of these vital assets, the region can attract more investment, spur economic growth, and enhance its global competitiveness. He stressed that the recent cable cuts have highlighted the need for a coordinated, multilateral approach to protecting shared infrastructure across member nations.

He proposed a framework “for joint monitoring, risk mitigation, and emergency response procedures for the submarine cables that pass through the sub-region.”

The NCC boss also argued that in addition to strengthening its subregional infrastructure resilience, the region needs to promote the diversification of its connectivity, conduct regular capacity assessments, and facilitate the designation of telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure in member countries.

On March 14, 2024, undersea cable cuts off the coasts of Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, disrupted connectivity in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, and other African countries. The affected cables included the West African Cable System (WACS), the African Coast to Europe (ACE), SAT3, and MainOne.

While connectivity has been restored in Nigeria, complete repairs are estimated to take 5 weeks.