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South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Ivory Coast expressed major internet outages

On Thursday(March 14th) , a wave of digital disruption swept across South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Ivory Coast and others leaving millions without internet access. The culprit? Multiple undersea communication cables reported failures, severing vital connections and impacting at least 13 countries. This widespread outage, unprecedented in its scale, throws light on the continent’s reliance on fragile subsea infrastructure.

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Widespread Disruption:

The outage primarily affected West African nations, with Ivory Coast, Liberia, Benin, Ghana, and Burkina Faso experiencing the most significant disruptions. Netblocks, an internet watchdog group, reported internet connectivity in Ivory Coast plummeting to a mere 4% at its worst. Similar drops were observed in Liberia (17%) and Benin (14%).

The disruption wasn’t limited to West Africa. South Africa, a major economic hub, also reported internet issues with mobile operator Vodacom confirming “intermittent connectivity issues” due to cable failures. Countries like Namibia and Lesotho were not spared either.

Cause of the Outage:

The exact cause of the multiple cable failures remains unclear. However, experts point towards potential physical damage to the subsea infrastructure. Cloudflare Radar, a service that monitors internet health, observed a “pattern in the timing of the disruptions,” suggesting a cascading effect as outages moved north to south.

This vulnerability of undersea cables was highlighted just last month when three cables in the Red Sea were severed, likely by a sunken ship’s anchor. The damage to these critical communication arteries on both sides of Africa likely exacerbated the situation, creating a bottleneck and further straining internet capacity.

Impact on Daily Life and Businesses:

The internet outage had significant ramifications across various sectors. Businesses reliant on digital platforms faced severe losses. In Nigeria, a major financial hub, the internet blackout disrupted online transactions and communication channels, hindering economic activity. Remote learning initiatives, increasingly prevalent across the continent, were also thrown into disarray.

Beyond economic disruptions, the outage hampered communication and information access for millions. Social media, a vital platform for news and interaction, became inaccessible for many. The disruption also likely affected international communication and financial transactions that rely on the internet.

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Uncertain Timeline for Restoration:

While some countries like Liberia and South Africa have reported restoration of services, the timeline for complete recovery remains uncertain. Repairing undersea cables can be a complex and time-consuming process, potentially taking weeks or even months. This extended outage could have a significant economic impact and hinder daily life across the affected countries.

Looking Forward: Building Resilience

The recent internet outage underscores the critical role undersea cables play in Africa’s digital connectivity. While the cause is still being investigated, the incident highlights the need for a multi-pronged approach to ensure internet resilience:

  • Infrastructure Investment: Diversifying and strengthening subsea cable infrastructure can help prevent future outages from crippling entire regions.
  • Redundancy: Building redundant connections within and between countries can provide alternative routes during outages.
  • Investment in Local Infrastructure: Enhancing internet infrastructure within African countries, including terrestrial networks and data centers, can lessen reliance on a few vulnerable subsea cables.

The recent internet outage serves as a stark reminder of Africa’s vulnerability in the digital age. By prioritizing infrastructure investment and building a more robust digital ecosystem, the continent can ensure a more stable and connected future.

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TAGiAfrica™ is a Web3 Magazine that is documenting the African journey in the crypto and blockchain industry for over a decade. We are the Pan-African magazine that covers business, technology, Blockchain, Crypto and Innovation.We are the essential resource for anyone who wants to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in Africa. The magazine is also a valuable resource for businesses that are looking to expand into Africa and committed to promoting African entrepreneurship and innovation.

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