…rupture attributed to seismic movement

…financial services hardest hit

Following the impact of Thursday’s internet service disruptions which extended beyond Nigeria to parts of West, Central and South Africa, service providers are engaging in frantic efforts to reroute traffic through alternative channels, while moving to repair their ruptured undersea cable systems.

This is with a view to reinforcing and restoring their infrastructure and going back to winning ways in service efficiency and profitability.

Thursday’s incident has seen damage to multiple fibre cables on the West Coast of Africa, including WACS, MainOne, SAT3 and ACE.

Meanwhile, sub-sea cable operators have been moving frantically to restore optimum services. One of the affected operators, Seacom, has issued a statement indicating efforts to reroute traffic through alternative channels to alleviate congestion.

Seacom is privately owned and operated, allowing it the agility to rapidly tailor-make and deploy new services, commercial models, and infrastructure in response to customer requirements without the red tape or hidden costs often prevalent in the industry, the company said in a statement on its website.

MainOne, one of the affected operators and a significant internet provider for Nigerian financial institutions and service providers, has attributed the cable rupture to seismic movement on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Our preliminary analysis would suggest some form of seismic activity on the seabed resulted in a break to the cable,” MainOne said in a statement, adding that it would obtain more data when the cable is retrieved during repair.

MainOne further said it may take up to two weeks to repair the rupture to its undersea cable which disrupted internet services in Nigeria, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, and other West African and East African countries since Thursday.

It said the process would be as follows: “First identify and assign a vessel, the vessel has to retrieve the necessary spares required for repair, and then sail to the fault location to conduct the repair work. Next, in order to complete the repair, the affected section of the submarine cable will have to be pulled from the seabed onto the ship where it will be spliced by skilled technicians.

“Post repair, joints will be inspected and tested for any defects and then the submarine cable is lowered back to the seabed and guided to a good position. This process might take 1-2 weeks for repairs while about 2-3 weeks of transit time may be required for the vessel to pick up the spares and travel from Europe to West Africa once the vessel is mobilised.”

In an update, the company said actions have been taken to mobilise a vessel to expeditiously repair the cable in the deep ocean.

MainOne said restoration capacity for temporary relief would be made available for customers.

“While we do have some pre-configured restoration capacity on other cable systems, unfortunately, those cable systems are also down currently. We have since acquired capacity on available cable systems, but we have not found readily available capacity to fully restore services to all our customers,” it said.

Most hit by the occurrence in Nigeria are telecommunications companies and banks which have experienced service failures and intermittent seizures, manifesting by way of slow speeds and unresponsive connections.

Other victims include entertainment and other streaming services, distance learning businesses, call centres and other remote location heavy bandwidth usage ventures.

Huge volumes of financial transactions have been stalled or stunted over the past few days, with costs and losses yet to be calculated but expected to chalk up significant sums.

Experts say it is expected that all the affected service providers would be taking remedial measures to remain competitive following the cable ruptures, otherwise their market share would be seized by rivals.

Such steps, they say, would include temporary co-operations and contracts with fibre-optic cable systems unaffected by Thursday’s undersea ruptures, with a view jump-starting full service to affected areas or creating by-passes to areas suffering loss of service.

This incident has led to the outage of numerous major Nigerian banks, preventing customers from accessing banking apps or utilising USSD services, as detailed in internal communications from some banks. Some commercial banks affected by the undersea cable damage are now advising their customers to use alternative channels as mobile apps and internet banking services have remained epileptic.

First City Monument Bank (FCMB), in a message to its customers on Friday, urged them to use its ATMs and POS channels to carry out their transactions. According to the bank, the internet disruption has affected all its electronic transaction channels, including mobile apps.

In a similar message to its customers, Zenith Bank also acknowledged challenges in performing transactions with its Internet Banking Platform and Mobile Banking App, Nairametrics reports.

Sterling Bank has also communicated to its customers about online banking hurdles, while Lemfi, an African remittance startup, has acknowledged experiencing service downtime.

The impact of Thursday’s internet disruption extends beyond Nigeria, with South African internet users also grappling with slow speeds and unresponsive connections. Vodacom has confirmed multiple subsea cable failures between South Africa and Europe, affecting various network providers. Furthermore, several other submarine cables across Africa, including AAE1 and EIG, have reported outages.