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  • Major Undersea Cable Outage Cripples Internet in Parts of Africa

    Major Undersea Cable Outage Cripples Internet in Parts of Africa
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  • Staff Writers
  • Staff Writer
  • Posted Mar 19, 2024
  • Multiple undersea cables experienced a significant disruption last Thursday, affecting several African countries, particularly Nigeria and South Africa. The West Africa Cable System (WACS), the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), SAT-3, and MainOne were among the system cables impacted during this outage.

    Africa relies on a network of undersea fiber cables that connect the continent to other parts of the world. However, these cables are still insufficient in number. When one cable goes down, it has a ripple effect on internet connectivity across Africa.

    Initial reports suggested that the cable breakdown resulted from an attack by Yemen’s Houthi Rebels on a ship. However, the data company (MainOne) has dismissed claims that the disruptions were caused by human or armed group activities.

    Submarine cable faults often occur due to various factors, including human actions such as fishing and anchoring near the shore, as well as natural hazards like earthquakes and landslides. The depth of these cables—approximately 3 kilometers—makes it unlikely that human activities like ship anchors or drilling caused the issue.

    While the exact cause remains uncertain, preliminary analysis points to seismic activity on the seabed as the likely culprit. The cable will be further examined during the repair process.

    Repairing undersea cables is a time-consuming endeavor. According to statements, the total repair duration may extend to approximately five weeks. This includes 1-2 weeks for actual repairs and an additional 2-3 weeks for transit time as the vessel retrieves necessary spares and travels from Europe to West Africa.

    Although Zimbabwe was not directly impacted, there could be some congestion as traffic gets rerouted through alternative cables. Notably, the outages also disrupted Microsoft Azure services in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. Customers using Microsoft Office 365 across the country reported difficulties accessing their services

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