Damage causes outage for Africa's first subsea cable

The outage has had an impact on some clients’ businesses but the operator has been working diligently to ensure service continuity

Damage causes outage for Africa's first subsea cable
The undersea cable operator encountered a service-affecting outage on its cable system on 24th February

Seacom, one of Africa's leading undersea communications systems and fiber network operators, has suffered a disruption to its connectivity services as a result of breakage on a segment of its cable lining in the Red Sea.

Confirming the incident, the company says other cables around the area have been damaged as well but has not been able to pinpoint the cause. Seacom's East African cable system, which runs from Mombasa in Kenya to Zafarana in Egypt, went down.

While the firm has yet to officially identify the cause, there is a likely culprit. The Red Sea has of late been ground zero for attacks on waterborne shipments and even people, no thanks to the activities of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.

The Red Sea handles 12% of global trade, and the Yemeni group's conquest for its control has forced tough decisions on companies that risk airstrikes while using the route. As such, they are either paying for more insurance or avoiding it altogether.

Earlier this month, the rebel militia threatened to wreak havoc on submarine broadband cables in the Red Sea, intending to destabilize internet access across the surrounding regions.

Geographically, the water body separates the coasts of Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea to the west from those of Saudi Arabia and Yemen to the east.

Launched in July 2009 as the continent's first broadband submarine cable system and upgraded in 2018 to 1.5 terabytes per second in capacity, Seacom stretches 17,000 kilometers, connecting South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti, Egypt, France and India.

"The location of the cable break is significant due to its geopolitical sensitivity and ongoing tensions, making it a challenging environment for maintenance and repair operations,” a part of Seacom's update on the development reads.

“At this time, Seacom is unable to confirm the cause of the disruption but is working with its cable repair partner to assess the feasibility of the repair in the region," the company adds.

With minor effects on traffic flow between Africa and the West, the operator is rerouting its existing IP services headed for Europe through alternatives like Equiano (which it plugged into just last year), PEACE, and WACS.

“The team is currently working towards restoration timelines and will communicate these plans with our clients,” Seacom notes.

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