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East Africa Internet Outage: Submarine Cable Cuts Disrupt Connectivity in East and South Africa

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Mbeki edmond

May 14, 2024

East and South Africa have been grappling with slow internet speeds since Sunday

the route of submarine cables affected by cuts in East and South Africa, with highlighted areas of impact and alternative routes being used to maintain internet connectivity.
Submarine cables along the Red Sea

East and South Africa have been grappling with slow internet speeds since Sunday due to damage to major submarine cables along the Red Sea, affecting both fiber and mobile broadband users.

Internet service providers are working to minimize disruptions as they await the restoration of connectivity, with reports indicating damage to at least two key subsea gateways essential for telecommunications networks in the regions.

Submarine cables, which are fiber-optic cables laid on the seabed, are crucial for global internet connectivity, transmitting data such as telephone and internet traffic between continents.

These cables, which are predominantly privately owned by telecom operators and major internet companies like Google and Meta, are vital as they account for 90% of Africa's internet requirements.

The current outage has been attributed to three cuts in the submarine cables and faults in another system. Notably, the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and the Seacom cables have reported issues.

The U.S. telecoms market research company TeleGeography notes that these subsea cables are generally more reliable than satellite technology because they are buried at shores and laid deep underwater, which normally protects them from damage.

Causes of submarine cable faults typically include human activities such as fishing and anchoring near shores, natural hazards like earthquakes, and even impacts from conflicts, as seen with the ongoing tensions in the Red Sea region.

The Communications Authority of Kenya is actively monitoring the situation and has directed service providers to find alternative routes to mitigate the impact on users. Despite the severity of the damage, backup systems like the East Africa Marine System (TEAMS) cable are being utilized to manage local traffic flow and maintain some level of service continuity.

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