Africa Internet Outages Persist After Multiple Cables Cut

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Damage to four subsea cables may take weeks or months to repair as internet outages continue across west and central Africa

Internet disruption in Africa may take weeks or months to resolve, as multiple countries in the west and central areas of the continent continued to experience outages over the weekend after damage to four subsea cables on Thursday.

The damage affected the West Africa Cable System, MainOne, South Atlantic 3 and ACE cables early on Thursday, affecting internet services in at least a dozen countries, as well as South Africa.

The cause of the cable damage is not known, but a shift in the seabed is one likely possibility.

“Repairs can take weeks to months, depending on where the damage is, what needs to be repaired, and local weather conditions,” internet analytics firm Cloudflare said in a statement.

“The assignment of repair ships depends on a number of factors, including ownership of the impacted cables.”

cables internet connectivity network
Image credit: Unsplash


Wireless carrier MTN Group said ACE and WACS have jointly initiated a repair process and are sending a vessel to effect repairs.

Specialist firm Orange Marine said it was one of those involved in repair operations, and said other companies are also involved.

It said it was not yet able to estimate how long the issues would take to fix.

Ivory Coast, Liberia and Benin were the worst affected, according to Netblocks, which monitors internet performance around the world.

The company said the disruption was amongst the most severe it has seen in Africa.

Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Cameroon were also heavily affected, Netblocks said.

‘Devastating blow’

“This is a devastating blow to internet connectivity along the west coast of Africa, which will be operating in a degraded state for weeks to come,” said Doug Madory, director of network diagnostics firm Kentik.

Ghana’s National Communications Authority said cable-related disruptions had also affected Senegal and Portugalm leading to a “significant degradation of data services across the country”.

Earlier this month damage to three subsea cables in the Red Sea caused disruption to telecommunications networks and forced providers to reroute as much as a quarter of network traffic between Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The anchor of a cargo ship sunk by Houthi militants in Yemen was likely to have caused that damage, according to assessments by cable industry group the Internet Cable Protection Committee and US authorities.