Internet outage: it’s difficult to tell what happened – NCA

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The Director of the National Communication Authority, Dr Joe Anokye has said it is difficult to tell what caused the undersea cable cuts that have plunged Ghana and other countries into internet blackouts. According to the NCA boss, the distance between the four affected cables is such that it is hard to determine the cause. Thus, till now, there is no specific understanding of what happened to the cables and caused the internet outage.

“These 4 cables in Ivory Coast, ACE, one of them is called ACE. That’s the one closer. it’s about 118km or so. Between that cable and the next cable is about 11 kilometres and just to put it in context, you know, 11 kilometres is from, like, you know, the general post office to Accra Mall.”

“The distance between that cable SAT-3 and the next cable, which is the main one, is allegedly to be about 67 kilometres, which is like from Accra Mall to Suhum. And all 3 were compromised. The distance between Main One and WACS, it is also 77 kilometres. This is Suhum to Nkawkaw. So it is very difficult to determine exactly what happened,”

While the incident has affected several countries in West and Central Africa and South Africa, many Ghanaians have blamed it on the government. Some claim the government plans to use that to disrupt the upcoming general elections. But the NCA boss thinks differently and assures that the Internet outage has no links to the elections.

Speaking to Eyewitness News on March 19, Dr Anokye said “That is completely not true if you understand how elections work. In fact, I believe one official of the EC even addressed this that on election day everything they do is manual. So there is no truth to that, the government won’t do that.”

Background of the Internet outage

On March 14, Ghana and several other African countries experienced internet outages at various degrees of severity. Ivory Coast, South Africa, Nigeria, Liberia, Benin, Ghana and Burkina Faso are some of the countries that were affected. The incident occurred due to undersea cable damage.

A graphic showing the countries affected by the internet outage in Africa
Photo: Netblocks

Four undersea cables linking these countries to Europe were damaged at different points including in Ivory Coast, Senegal and Portugal. The cables, MainOne, Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable (SAT-3/WASC) and West Africa Cable System (WACS) were damaged. As a result, some countries, such as Ivory Coast, experienced severe internet outages while others, like Nigeria, experienced low.

Repair ships have since been deployed to fix the damages while telecom companies have also been working out other options to mitigate the impact on consumers. For instance, Ghana has discussed options to license satellite internet provider Starlink in the country.

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