New subsea cable cuts cause major disruptions across East African nations

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May 13, 2024
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2 min read
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The news: 

  • Two submarine Internet cables connecting South Africa and Kenya belonging to Eassy and Seacom have reportedly stopped working since Sunday, May 12, 2024. 
  • The incident has been reported to result in Internet service disruptions across several East African nations, including Kenya and Tanzania. So far, the immediate cause of the incident has yet to be established. 

However, Wiocc, an investor in the Eassy, disclosed that the Eassy cable system experienced a cut between South Africa and Mozambique, where the cable runs along the continent’s east coast. 

According to reports, the same thing happened with the Seacom cable around the same time. Consequently, all subsea capacity between East Africa and South Africa is reportedly down.

On the day of the incident, Tanzania's Minister of Information, Communication, and Information Technology, Nape Nnauye, said in a statement that both telecom infrastructure companies had informed the government of the Internet disruption.

“There are ongoing efforts to solve the problem. As they continue to solve the problem, we will have low access to Internet and international voice calls,” Nnauye explained. 

Some reports noted that locals in Kenya and Tanzania suffered a major Internet disruption, with social media reports indicating an Internet blackout in many areas. 

A cybersecurity and Internet governance watchdog organisation noted on X that Tanzania and the French Island of Mayotte suffered a significant Internet connectivity failure, while the impact on Malawi and Mozambique was minimal. 

Frustrated by the seemingly constant disconnection of Internet services, some subscribers to Kenya's major networks and Internet service providers, such as Safaricom and Telkom, took to X to report their ordeal. 

In a statement on X, Safaricom assured customers that it’ll continue to monitor network and service delivery following the multiple undersea cable cuts. The company noted that it had redundancy plans to minimise the effect. 

South African Internet users seem to have been spared since most of the country’s Internet traffic goes through cable systems such as Equiano and Wacs, which run along Africa’s west coast. 

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Following the Red Sea cable cuts, traffic from the east coast was redirected to the west coast.

The East Africa cable incident comes at the most inopportune time, given that three subsea cables — Seacom, EIG, and AAE-1 — in the Red Sea that connect Africa and Southeast Asia to Europe were damaged three months ago during an attack by Yemeni Houthi rebels. On March 14, 2024, four undersea telecom cables went offline near the Ivory Coast: the West Africa Cable System (WACS), Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT-3.


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