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Subsea Cable Cut: 35 Networks Restored, Full Restoration Of Cables To Gulp $8m

Multiple landslides have been suggested as the probable cause of cut undersea cables rather than sabotage.

West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC), the parent company of Open Access Data Centres (OADC), and one of the companies with the largest capacity that is involved in the restoration of subsea cables that were damaged in the Atlantic Ocean penultimate week, on Monday, gave update on the level of restoration.

WIOCC’s CEO, Mr. Chris Wood, who gave the update via a virtual conference, said 35 networks across West African countries, Nigeria inclusive, have been restored to full capacity resilience, adding that it will take another four weeks to fully restore internet services to all network operators that are connected to the affected four submarine cables that came from Europe, with landing points along the West African coast.

According to him, it will cost a total of about $2 million to achieve full restoration to a single subsea cable, depending on the extent of the cut on the cable.

This brings it to a total of about $8 million to fix the affected four submarine cables that were affected by the cut.

Wood however said the owners of the affected cables would bear the cost of restoration of the individual subsea cables.

The affected cables include: MainOne Cable, West African Cable System (WACS), African Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable and SAT3 subsea cable systems. All four subsea cables came from Europe and they all have landing points at the coast of West African countries, including Nigeria.

Wood who ruled out the possibility of sabotage or any other factor that have been speculated to be the cause of the multiple cuts on the affected four submarine cables, said from the ongoing restoration exercise, he suspected that the cables were affected by heavy landslides from the coast of Cote d’Ivoire, where debris from landslides effect may have rolled down into the ocean to cause the damages. He however said ships have been deployed to the affected areas to carry out repairs on the affected cables, and that until the ships arrive in few days time to effect repairs and investigate the real cause of the submarine cable cuts, it would be difficult to ascertain the real cause of the multiple cuts on the affected submarine cables.   

“Since the subsea cable cut, we have restored internet services to 35 networks across West Africa, amounting to 2.5 Terabytes capacity with over 100 links. We recently deployed equipment worth $100 million in accessing new cuts on undersea cables. What we did was to use our capacity on the Equiano cable that was not affected by the cut to restore services to other facilities and operators currently suffering outages in Lagos and elsewhere on the continent.”

Considering the effect of the cable cut, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has called for a coordinated and multilateral approach by the region to protect shared telecommunications infrastructure, and diversify connectivity to ensure uninterruptible connections.

Executive Vice Chairman of the  Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida, made the submission in a statement delivered at the 21st West Africa Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly (WATRA) Annual General Meeting (AGM), which held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, from the 19th to 22nd March 2024.

Dr. Maida, whose message was delivered at the WATRA AGM by the Deputy Director, Public Affairs of the Commission, Nnenna Ukoha, stated that the recent submarine cable cuts that resulted in nationwide outages on multiple networks in 12 African countries has raised the urgent need for the sub-region to establish a mechanism to protect itself from damage to submarine infrastructure and its attendant impact on the sub-region.

Reacting to NCC’s statement, Wood said subsea cables all over the world could get cut for various reasons, which could be as a result of landslides, propellers from ships, among other reasons.

“What Nigeria and other West African countries need are more cables landing at the shores of the country that will lead to huge redundancy. The idea of physical security may not work because the cables are laid on the bed of the sea and no one can see exactly their locations to warrant physical protection. So having more cables is the best security measure and not physical security,” Wood said. Although Wood said it would cost about $1 billion to berth a subsea cable from Europe to West Africa, he however insisted that multiple cable system remained the best form to address cable cuts that occur all over the world.

He said WIOOC was established 15 years ago to provide backbone services to organisations and their networks across West Africa.   

Emma Okonji

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