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Major internet outage hits East Africa after Subsea cables cut

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Internet services across East Africa have been severely disrupted following simultaneous cuts to two vital undersea cable systems linking the region to South Africa.

The faults, affecting the EASSy and SEACOM fiber optic cables that run along Africa’s eastern coastline, were first detected on Sunday. All subsea internet connectivity between East Africa and South Africa is currently down.

While the exact cause remains unclear, reports suggest an undersea incident may have severed both cables concurrently, similar to an event off Ivory Coast in March that damaged multiple West African cables.

The double cable break has created a major internet blackout across parts of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Madagascar. Social media has been flooded with reports from users in those nations experiencing little to no connectivity on fixed and mobile broadband networks.

In Tanzania, the government confirmed it had been notified of the disruption by the cable operators. Information Minister Nape Nnauye warned citizens to expect “low access to internet and international voice calls” until the issue is resolved.

Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telecom provider, also acknowledged the outage and said it had “activated redundancy measures” to maintain uptime, albeit at reduced internet speeds for subscribers.

While South Africa itself has been largely spared thanks to cabling on the west coast continuing operations, the cutoff is another major broadband infrastructure setback for the continent.

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It comes just three months after undersea cables in the Red Sea linking Africa to Europe and Asia were severed, purportedly by a stricken ship whose anchor tore through the lines. Those vitally important data pipelines remain unrepaired.

East African internet users could now face an extended internet blackout lasting weeks, as cable repair ships must first transit from Cape Town and then carefully locate and fix the dual faults at sea.

For millions across the region heavily reliant on internet access for communication, commerce and education, it portends a disruptive period of frustration and lost economic productivity until the subsea cables can be restored to full operations.

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