Subscribers of Africa’s top Telecom, MTN in Nigeria are experiencing slow internet service after two continental undersea cables along the western coast were damaged.
The undersea cables which carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean and sea transfer about 99% of international data transmitted on the continent. It is however unclear if any other Nigerian telco is affected as all appear to be working just fine.
According to Openserve, the South Atlantic 3/West Africa (SAT-3/WASC) submarine cable, which links South Africa to Europe was damaged near Libreville in Gabon. The West Africa Cable System (WASC), which links South Africa to the United Kingdom, also experienced outage along the coast of Luanda, Angola.
This is, however, not the first time damage to undersea cables has disrupted internet services on the continent. In 2018, after the African Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable was severed, more than 10 African countries were affected, with Mauritania going offline for 48 hours.
Currently, Consumer’s across some countries including Nigeria, South Africa and Ivory coast are having issues sending emails, making international calls as well as browsing.
In Nigeria, disruption to the transfer of telecoms signals through the cables resulted in the slow internet connection experienced by MTN Subscribers since Thursday.
However, with parts of the cabling lying deep underwater, it’s unclear as to when full connectivity will be restored as the repair of Undersea facilities are tedious, complex and time-consuming.
This could however, cost MTN its subscribers in Nigeria as the competition among internet providers is fierce. According to recent NCC statistics, MTN currently has about 67 million subscribers with Globacom and Airtel following closely with 51 and 49 million respectively.
If the internet issues persist, MTN may lose some of its subscribers to competitors like Airtel or even 9mobile who recorded high import rates.
However, MTN Group through its twitter page and broadcast messages, have apologized to customers in Nigeria and Ivory Coast for slow Internet speeds and difficulties in accessing data services.
Also, a spokeswoman for MTN based in Johannesburg added that the telco is already seeking alternative routes of connection before the damage is repaired.
Openserve has disclosed that they have made their resources available to both the Wacs and SAT3/Wasc undersea cable consortiums, to assist in repairs. But if the issues are not resolved it may begin to accumulate significant loss in both revenue and subscribers for affected telcos across Africa.