JUST IN: 6 Things to Know About Undersea Cable Damage That Crippled Nigeria’s Internet

6 Things to Know About Undersea Cable Damage That Crippled Nigeria's Internet

6 Things to Know About Undersea Cable Damage That Crippled Nigeria's Internet

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Henzodaily.ng journalist Victor Enengedi has over a decade's experience covering Energy, MSMEs, Technology and the stock market.

were plunged into chaos on March 14 when the internet abruptly went offline. This outage severely affected banking services and telecommunications, causing widespread disruption.

Subsequent reports indicated that the outage resulted from damage to submarine cables.

Specifically, major undersea cables near Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire were affected, including vital communication links such as the West Cable System (WACS), the Africa Coast to (ACE), MainOne, and SAT3.

The outage has impacted over a dozen countries, raising concerns about the potential disruption of critical services.
Photo credit – MainOne, Shutterstock
Source: UGC

Consequently, numerous African countries experienced downtime due to this issue.

In the aftermath, citizens have been clamouring for explanations, questioning how such damage could occur to cables situated at significant depths beneath the ocean surface.

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Cause of network outage

According to MainOne, an African provider of digital infrastructure services catering to various regions in western and southern Africa, there has been a disruption in a submarine cable system in the Atlantic Ocean near Cote D'Ivoire along the West African coast.

This fault has had repercussions on multiple cable systems, leading to disturbances in international connectivity and internet services for nations across West Africa.

How were the cables damaged?

While the exact cause of the damage remains unconfirmed, MainOne has stated that initial investigations indicate the fault resulted from an “external incident.”

This incident led to a cut on their submarine cable system in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa.

According to MainOne, their preliminary analysis suggests that some form of seismic activity on the seabed may have caused the cable breakage.

However, more data will be gathered when the cable is retrieved during the repair process, providing further insights into the incident.

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Countries affected by the outage

The outage has impacted over a dozen countries, raising concerns about the potential disruption of critical services, especially in severely affected nations like .

According to Netblocks, an organization monitoring cybersecurity and internet governance, Liberia, Benin, , Nigeria, and Burkina Faso experienced significant impacts.

Cloudflare, an internet infrastructure company, highlighted ongoing major disruptions in countries including the Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, and Niger.

Namibia, Lesotho, and were also affected by the outage.

How the internet outage affected consumers

This unprecedented outage, occurring on a massive scale, left millions of users grappling with significant challenges as it severely impacted businesses and disrupted the daily routines of citizens across affected nations.

The service interruption compelled numerous banks, financial institutions, telecom companies, and related enterprises to reduce their operations.

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Consequently, many customers experienced frustration due to their inability to access banking apps or utilize USSD services.

Telecom subscribers encountered obstacles in accessing crucial services, such as making calls, sending messages, and utilizing internet data.

Total monetary loss during outage

According to the NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool, the disruption in internet services incurred a staggering cost to Nigeria, amounting to over N593 million within a span of four days.

NetBlocks, a vigilant watchdog overseeing cybersecurity and internet governance, highlighted that the cost indicator reflected a loss exceeding N273,987,701,601 billion (equivalent to $593,689,494 million) during this period, utilizing the exchange rate as of May 2023.

This estimation was derived from calculating the losses incurred between Thursday, March 14, and Sunday, March 17, 2024, totalling N273 billion ($593 million) based on the exchange rate of May 2023.

How long will/did it last

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MainOne initially outlined the repair procedure, which involved identifying and allocating a vessel to retrieve necessary spares essential for the repair task, followed by navigating to the fault location for the repair operation.

Consequently, the company estimated that the repair process could span up to two weeks.

Nonetheless, there have been observable enhancements in the network infrastructure of several affected countries.

Notably, in Nigeria, the Communications Commission (NCC) announced updates on Monday, March 18, indicating the restoration of voice and data services impacted by the cable cuts.

Furthermore, other African nations that experienced disruptions have also reported significant improvements.

Source: Henzodaily.ng

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