If you’re in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Cameroon, or Ivory Coast, and you’ve been having problems accessing the internet in your area for the most part of this week, that’s probably because the internet may be broken. Literally.
Reports have emerged that internet users across more than a dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa have suffered/are suffering poor internet service because two undersea cables connected to the continent’s western coast were destroyed this week.
While it remains unclear what led to the damage of the submarine internet cables, the fact is that at least 12 countries besides were impacted to, at least, some degree.
According to Bloomberg, it was gathered from Openserve — a unit of South Africa’s biggest fixed-line telco, Telkom SA — that the affected cables are the WACS and SAT3/WASC cable systems which are in the Atlantic Ocean and connect South Africa and many other African countries to Europe.
Bloomberg reports that one of the damages occurred near Libreville, the Gabonese capital, and the other one can be traced to the area around Angola’s capital, Luanda.
At the moment, consumers and businesses in some countries are cannot send emails or make cross-border phone calls. And there’s no way of knowing when normal connectivity will be restored since parts of cable work lie thousands of metres underwater.
Some telcos have responded by sending out communications via traditional and social media.
South Africa-based Internet Solutions, a unit of Dimension Data Holdings Plc told customers in Ghana a “major” service impact had started on Thursday afternoon and said it didn’t know when services would be restored.
MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest telecommunications provider, apologized to customers in Nigeria and Ivory Coast for slow Internet speeds and difficulties in accessing data services, while also stating that the problem is beyond its control.
Yello. We apologise if you have been experiencing slow data speeds or finding it difficult to access the internet at the moment. Our technical teams are working to resolve this issue as soon as possible. Please bear with us. pic.twitter.com/ZihMXtMEVt
— MTN Nigeria (@MTNNG) January 16, 2020
In an emailed statement reportedly received by Bloomberg, a Johannesburg-based spokeswoman for MTN said the situation is affecting all operators and customers in the region.
It is understood that MTN has already begun to restore traffic through other channels while actively seeking alternative routes of connectivity.
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