Multiple subsea cable breaks causing internet chaos in South Africa

Widespread problems were affecting the internet in South Africa on Thursday due to multiple undersea cable breaks.

“Multiple undersea cable failures between South Africa and Europe are currently impacting South Africa’s network providers, including Vodacom,” Vodacom spokesman Byron Kennedy told TechCentral at 2.22pm on Thursday.

Multiple sources have told TechCentral that there has been an undersea incident impacting multiple cables along Africa’s west coast. According to Microsoft, four cables have been affected.

One source said the break may have occurred off the coast of Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast in West Africa. The main internet cables that connect South Africa to Europe run along the west coast of Africa, including the West Africa Cable System (Wacs) and Google’s Equiano cable.

According to Microsoft, the affected cables are Wacs, MainOne, Sat-3 and Ace.

This is the second time in seven months that a major cable break along Africa’s coastline has severely impacted internet services in South Africa.

And the latest outage could not have come at a worse time, given that the Seacom cable, which connects South Africa to Europe along Africa’s east coast, was recently severed in the Red Sea, possibly as the result of a ship’s anchor. Repairs to the Seacom cable will take time as a result of the geopolitical instability in the region.

Read: Is tap water in South Africa still safe to drink?

Seacom confirmed to TechCentral on Thursday that the Wacs cable, on which it carries traffic, is down, but that internet traffic is still flowing across the Equiano system — and that is good news, as it means a lot of the west coast internet traffic on Wacs (and the other affected cables) can be diverted.

Azure issues

According to Microsoft, the cable breaks have reduced total capacity supporting its Azure data centre regions in South Africa, namely South Africa North and South Africa West. Many organisations reported problems accessing Microsoft services, including Teams, on Thursday.

South Africa North and West refer to Microsoft’s two data centre regions in South Africa, one of which is located in Gauteng, and the other in the Western Cape.  – © 2024 NewsCentral Media

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