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Why Kenya suffered major internet outages


On Sunday 12 May, East and South Africa experienced major internet disruption after a submarine cable was cut.

According to reports, all undersea capacity between the two regions was severely affected, affecting several ISPs across the region.

At the time of going to press, the cause of the cable failures was not immediately clear, to the frustration of millions of customers across the region, but according to Ben Roberts, Group CTIO at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, in a post on X, faults were reported in the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and the Seacom cables.

“Three key submarine cables in the Red Sea – Seacom, EIG and AAE1 – have also suffered cuts and remain unrepaired, leading to the widespread outage,” he wrote.

The latest cable problems appear to be severely affecting internet users in Kenya and Tanzania, with social media reports suggesting a near total internet blackout in some areas. Rwanda, Uganda and Madagascar also appear to have been affected.

In Kenya, the outages affected users of major networks and internet service providers, including Safaricom and Telkom Kenya, according to social media posts.

In March, countries across Africa suffered a major internet outage after several undersea telecommunications cables reported failures, according to network operators and internet watchdog groups.

NetBlocks said data transmission and measurements showed a major disruption to international transits, “likely at or near the landing points of the submarine network cables”.

Safaricom did not confirm whether it had a problem, only telling customers who reported the outage that it was working on it.

“We sincerely apologise for this experience. We are looking into the issue to resolve it as soon as possible. Please bear with us,” they replied to almost everyone who asked.

Africa leads the world in web traffic on mobile devices, with many of the continent’s businesses relying on the internet to provide services to their customers.

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