Slashed undersea cables cause massive internet outage in a dozen African countries

Internet outage - No Internet on Phone - Africa continent

Failed undersea telecommunication cables left twelve countries cut off from the online ecosystem.

A dozen African countries suffered from a huge internet outage when critical undersea cables failed in the region.

Network operators reported the failed undersea telecommunication cables

One of the largest network providers in the continent, the MTN Group, announced that there had been failures in a number of undersea cables, which led to the ongoing internet outage.

Internet outage - Cable broken underwater

“Our operations are actively working to reroute traffic through alternative network paths,” said the company based in South Africa.

Cable damage has been a notable cause of disruptions to Africa’s online networks over the past few years.  That said, according to a worldwide internet disruption documenting group, NetBlocks, this issue was particularly bad.

“Today’s disruption points to something larger (and) this is amongst the most severe,” said NetBlocks director of research Isik Mater.

Data transmission and measurement indicated that there was a substantial disruption to international transits, according to NetBlocks, which pointed out that it was “likely at or near the subsea network cable landing points.”

The specific cause of the internet outage wasn’t made publicly clear

Some of the countries worst hit by the connection woes were nations that require them for critical services, such as Ivory Coast.  Africa is the world leader for mobile device web traffic, and many of the continent’s organizations and businesses use online services as a critical part of their ability to deliver services to customers.

Among the affected system cables were those belonging to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), the West Africa Cable System (WACS), SAT-3, and MainOne.  The Cloudflare internet analysis firm confirmed that there was a disruption timing pattern that greatly impacted at least ten West African countries, including Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Liberia.

South Africa’s mobile operator Vocadom also reported that it was experiencing “intermittent connectivity issues due to multiple undersea cable failures.” Other affected countries included Namibia and Lesotho.

These types of cable failures get worse as networks attempt to overcome the internet outage by routing around the damage, risking capacity availability reduction for other African countries, explained Mater.

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