Internet Instability in West Africa: Evaluating Undersea Cable Damage Impact

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The stability of the internet in West Africa has been considerably compromised following the occurrence of damage to a vital subsea cable, causing internet services to either be unavailable or barely functional in large parts of the region. Particularly hampered are countries like Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Benin.

According to findings by internet watchdog, NetBlocks, the resultant impact in these countries oscillated between high and severe. In addition to affecting large expanses of West Africa, the disruption also managed to affect users in South Africa, where several thousands reported of internet perturbations.

In statements related to the incident, two significant African operators, MTN and Vodafone, have confirmed subsea cable failure as the cause of the disruption. An official from Vodafone expounded, “Multiple undersea cable failures between South Africa and Europe are currently impacting South Africa’s network providers, including Vodafone.”

As of now, the exact location of the breakage has not been determined. Furthermore, existing challenges have been exacerbated by the recent severance of the Seacom cable that connects South Africa with Europe via East Africa and the Red Sea. The situation is delicate due to the geopolitical status of the region, which is causing delays in repair.

This event marks the second time in less than a year that Africa’s internet infrastructure has faced pandemonium due to an undersea cable issue. Uncertainty currently surrounds the duration to repair the damage given that the location of the break is still unknown. Undoubtedly, this recent event heralds a period of additional challenges for the telecommunications industry in Africa, as well as for the affected regions.

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