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Major internet outage hits dozens of countries in Africa as undersea cables fail

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, has announced plans to spearhead a global collaboration aimed at enhancing the protection of undersea cables.

The minister made this disclosure on social media platform, X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday.

This comments came against the backdrop of undersea cable cut that has affected Ghana, Togo, Senegal, among others.

Recognising the critical role these cables play in the digital economy, Tijani emphasised the need to review international laws and foster partnerships with regional and global bodies to accelerate efforts to safeguard this vital infrastructure.

Assuring those affected by the disruptions, Tijani stated that the Nigerian Communications Commission was actively working with all relevant stakeholders to swiftly resolve the issues at hand.

According to him, the initiative marks a significant step towards ensuring the resilience and reliability of undersea cables, crucial lifelines in today’s interconnected world.

Tijani said, “I must commend the selflessness shown by the leadership of @GloWorld @WIOCC_ @MTNNG @Mainoneservice and the entire sector in coming together to limit the impact of the cuts. Your actions are helping us all to better prepare for the future.

“This is also an opportunity for us to review international laws and collaborations to adequately protect undersea cables, and I will be engaging regional and global bodies to accelerate efforts on this crucial agenda.

“To those experiencing disruption, please rest assured that @NgComCommission is working with all key stakeholders to resolve the matter in the shortest possible time.”

On Thursday, cuts to the undersea cable supplying broadband Internet connectivity to Nigeria and countries in the West African sub-region forced many banks and other financial institutions, as well as telecom companies and allied firms, to scale down their operations.

Cable companies—West African Cable System and African Coast to Europe in the West Coast route from Europe—have experienced faults, while SAT3 and MainOne have downtime.

Meanwhile, President of the Association Of Mobile Money and Bank Agents In Nigeria, Sarafadeen Fasasi, explained that there the disruption in the internet service had led to huge reconciliation issues for his members.

He said, “Financial services now ride on technology and internet connectivity. With that breach, several transactions have been affected. Lots of bank transfers for customers did not go through, whereas our agents have been debited leading to issues with customers. The customers do not want to understand whereas the monies have left the wallet of the agents. It has been a serious headache in the last couple of days. It is improving now but there are huge reconciliation issues.”

It has also come to light that the undersea cable cuts may remain unsolved for several weeks.

Eight West African countries have been impacted by the disruption with users in South Africa also affected, after damage to four sub-sea cables. The cause of the cable cutting was still not known, though a shifting of the seabed was among the likely possibilities.

Already the National Communications Authority in Ghana has said that fixing the internet challenge will last a minimum of five weeks.

In an official statement, the NCA revealed that it hosted a meeting on Saturday, involving all subsea cable landing service providers and the three mobile operators affected by the situation.

“Based on the above, the subsea cable landing service providers have indicated an estimated time frame of a minimum of five (5) weeks for full service restoration from the time the vessels are dispatched to the various locations.

“The NCA recognizes the impact the disruptions have had on economic, academic and social activities and assures the public of its commitment to continue collaborating with relevant stakeholders,” NCA assured in the statement.

Meanwhile in Cote D’Ivoire, one of the countries where the faults took place has seen services restored.

According to a public relations expert in the French-speaking country, Charles Jama, services had been restored on Friday.

In a chat with a correspondent on Saturday night, he said, “Talking about the internet situation, currently here. The problem was fixed yesterday (Friday) so now it is good.”