Undersea cable damage brings major connectivity disruption to Africa


A damaged subsea cable has brought major disruption to West Africa, with internet services down or barely accessible across large parts of the region, with Ivory Coast, Liberia and Benin the worst effected.

While the cause of the damage has yet to be confirmed, reports from NetBlocks, an internet watchdog have classified the incident impact in these three countries as being severe to high, while outages were being experienced across large swathes of the region, as well as in South Africa, where thousands of users have reported disruption.

Both MTN and Vodacom, two of the continent’s largest operators have confimed that subsea cable failures were the cause, with a Vodacom spokesman stating “Multiple undersea cable failures between South Africa and Europe are currently impacting South Africa’s network providers, including Vodacom.” While the cable break has yet to be pinpointed, the disruption couldn’t have come at a worse time, with the Seacom cable that connects South Africa with Europe via East Africa and the Red Sea having been recently severed, with repairs being delayed due to the delicate geopolitical situation within the region.

The outage has caused widespread disruption, and marks the second time in seven months than an undersea cable issue has brought chaos to Africa’s internet infrastructure. While it’s unclear how long it will take to repair the damage, with the location of the break not yet pinpointed, this latest outage will no doubt bring further headaches to the industry and broader region.


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