West Africa slowly recovers from multiple submarine cable failures

Four submarine cables that serve west Africa were reported to have been damaged late last week and many of the affected countries are still facing connectivity disruptions.

Scott Bicheno

March 18, 2024

2 Min Read
source: telegeography

Global internet services provider Cloudflare blogged last Thursday that ‘Undersea cable failures cause Internet disruptions for multiple African countries’. It noted abnormally low internet traffic to a number of west African countries, from The Gambia to Cameroon, with Liberia, Cote d’Ivore, and Ghana apparently the worst affected.

Cloudflare directed people to a submarine cable map published online by Telegeography that indicates the following cables have been affected: Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, Sat-3/WASC, and West Africa Cable System (WACS). This is corroborated by reporting from Connecting Africa, which featured commentary from Internet monitoring firm NetBlocks.

After its initial blog, Cloudflare has been monitoring the situation via its ‘Radar’ tool and offering updates via Twitter/X. The pattern of gradual recovery of connectivity over the weekend once more points to the epicentre of the incident being close to Ghana.

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Unlike the recent Red Sea cable incident, foul play is not suspected in this case. “Given the distance from land, and the cable depth of about 3 kms at the point of fault, any kind of human activity – ship anchors, fishing, drilling etc has been immediately ruled out,” said MainOne in a dedicated FAQ page. “Our preliminary analysis would suggest some form of seismic activity on the seabed resulted in a break to the cable, but we will obtain more data when the cable is retrieved during the repair exercise.”

Once more the considerable degree of redundancy in the global subsea cable system seems to have at least mitigated the affects of this incident. The systems in place to allow rerouting of traffic to other cables seems to be working well and, while many of the countries will presumably experience some restrictions to their connectivity until the damage is repaired, at least they’re not totally cut off.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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