African internet slows after undersea cables break

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Some Internet users across sub-Saharan Africa are stuck with slow service after two undersea cables to the continent’s western coast were damaged.

The so-called WACS and SAT3/WASC cable systems are in the Atlantic Ocean and connect South Africa and many other African countries to Europe, according to Openserve, a unit of South Africa’s biggest fixed-line telecommunications provider, Telkom SA.

One break is near Libreville in Gabon and the other is in the vicinity of Luanda, Angola, Openserve said in an emailed statement.

In some countries, consumers and businesses can’t send emails or make cross-border phone calls. With parts of the cabling lying deep underwater, it’s unclear as to when full connectivity will be restored.

Providers apologise

MTN Group, Africa’s biggest telecommunications provider, apologized to customers in Nigeria and Ivory Coast for slow Internet speeds and difficulties in accessing data services. The company, in newspaper advertisements and via Twitter, said the problem was beyond its control.

“This situation is affecting all operators and customers in the region,” a Johannesburg-based spokeswoman for MTN said in an emailed statement on Friday. “MTN has already begun to restore traffic through other channels and will continue to find alternative routes of connectivity until the situation is resolved.”

South Africa-based Internet Solutions, a unit of Dimension Data Holdings, told customers in Ghana a “major” service impact had started on Thursday afternoon and said it didn’t know when services would be restored.

© 2020 Bloomberg

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