Brace for Weeks of Internet Woes as Submarine Cable Repairs Begin


Kenyans are facing the grim prospect of enduring sluggish internet speeds and outages for at least three weeks as repairs to damaged undersea cables continue.

The disruption, which began on Sunday, May 12, is expected to persist as repair efforts are estimated to take between two to three weeks, according to Fiona Asonga, CEO of the Technology Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK).

“As we have cables in February not fixed, we would say we give it three weeks to a month for them to fix in the interim. There is a special kind of ship that is used to lay the cable. When they get ether they need to access the amount of damage done, to determine how long it will take to fix,” Asonga explained to Citizen TV.

Internet users across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda reported varying degrees of disruption between Sunday and Monday following cuts to two submarine cables, EASSy (East Africa Submarine System) and Seacom. The impact rippled across borders, causing disruptions in Mozambique, Malawi, and Madagascar, according to Cloudflare, a US internet data company.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) confirmed that the recovery process has commenced, though warned that “slow speeds may remain in the coming few days.”

Communications Authority of Kenya Headquarters

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Communications Authority of Kenya

Kenya’s largest network, Safaricom announced plans to seek “additional capacity with other undersea cable partners” to mitigate the connectivity shortfall.

Similarly, South African telecom giants MTN and Telkom, operating in East Africa, assured efforts to “minimize” the disruption.

Chris Wood, chief executive of the West Indian Ocean Cable Company, cautioned that fixing the breaks on EASSy and Seacom could be a time-consuming process, “dependent on weather, sea conditions, and the extent of the damage.”

This disruption is the third in a series within four months, sparking fears of the vulnerability of internet services in the region.

The recent damage occurred at Mtunzini, a small coastal town in South Africa, severing deep-sea fibre cables and causing widespread internet slowdowns.

According to Cloudflare Radar, which monitors Internet connectivity, Tanzania is among the worst-affected countries, with traffic plummeting to 30 per cent of expected levels. Additionally, Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar have reported significant disruptions.

The incident follows a spate of outages on the western coast of Africa in March, where multiple cables including SAT-3/West Africa Cable System (WACS), Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and South Atlantic 3 were impacted.

Fiona Asonga expressed concern, stating, “What happened over the weekend has been happening, several incidences have taken place where the submarine cable system is being disrupted and disrupted to a point where we don’t have certain services.”

“These services we are not able to access means that they are not being hosted locally within our jurisdiction or catered for in a cache, set of servers, therefore we are feeling the effect of it.”

Internet connections across the continent rely heavily on hundreds of submarine cables laid on the ocean floor, employing fibre optic technology to transmit vast amounts of data rapidly.

An image showing an internet connection cable.

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Kenya Pics



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