NCC, Mainone confirm undersea cable cut repairs ongoing

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), has announced ongoing repair efforts on the undersea cable cuts, which caused equipment faults in major sea cables along the West African coast, resulting in internet disruptions.

NCC in a statement issued on Saturday,March 16, said operators of the damaged cables had commenced repairs, noting that internet services are gradually being restored.

“Cable companies – West African Cable System (WACS) and African Coast to Europe (ACE) in the West Coast route from Europe have experienced faults while SAT3 and MainOne have downtime.

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“Similar undersea cables providing traffic from Europe to the East Coast of Africa, like Seacom, Europe India Gateway (EIG), Asia-Africa-Europe 1 (AAE1), are said to have been cut at some point around the Red Sea, resulting in degradation of services across on these routes.

NCC further said that in Nigeria and other West African countries, Internet access and speed have experienced disruptions in the networks of service providers in the affected countries, but confirmed network is gradually being restored.

MAINONE on their own end confirmed that works are ongoing, but  will take about five weeks to fix undersea cable cuts due to an external incident on its submarine cable system in the Atlantic Ocean between Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire, offshore the coast of West Africa.

The incident also disrupted MainOne services south of Senegal and Nigeria, resulting in an Internet outage for telecommunications companies, banks, and several individuals in the country.

In a recent update on its website, Mainone said, “This process might take 1-2 weeks for repairs while about 2-3 weeks of transit time may be required for the vessel to pick up the spares and travel from Europe to West Africa once the vessel is mobilised.

“We have a maintenance agreement with Atlantic Cable Maintenance and Repair Agreement (ACMA) to provide repair services for the submarine cable.”

MainOne, a data center and connectivity solutions provider in Nigeria and other African countries explained that it would first identify and assign a vessel that would retrieve the necessary spares required for repair and then sail to the fault location to conduct the repair work.

To complete the repair, the affected section of the submarine cable would have to be pulled from the seabed onto the ship, where skilled technicians would splice it, Mainone said.

“Post repair, joints will be inspected and tested for any defects and then the submarine cable is lowered back to the seabed and guided to a good position,” it added.

The undersea cable cut occurred on Thursday, March 14, at 7:43 GMT, and investigations have revealed that the fault happened due to an external incident.

“Most submarine cable faults occur as a result of human activities such as fishing and anchoring in shallow waters near shore, natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, and then equipment failure. Given the distance from land, and the cable depth of about 3 km at the point of fault, any kind of human activity – ship anchors, fishing, drilling, etc has been immediately ruled out.

“Our preliminary analysis would suggest some form of seismic activity on the seabed resulted in a break to the cable, but we will obtain more data when the cable is retrieved during the repair exercise,” Mainone said.

Mainone declares force majeure

Meanwhile, Mainone declared force majeure to pay service outage penalties.

A force majeure is an unforeseeable circumstance that prevents someone from fulfilling a contract, The ICIR report.



    “A Force Majeure event describes an activity beyond our reasonable control e.g. riots, earthquakes, etc. Commercial contracts typically include such a clause which enables service providers to suspend contractual obligations for the duration of such disruptions.

    “Nonetheless, we are working to provide restoration services to as many of our customers as possible, and to complete the repairs to the cable system in record time,” Mainone maintained.

    It explained that based on the circumstances, the failure constitutes an event of Force Majeure, a situation beyond its control in the ordinary course of business.

    “We recognise the impact of the outage on our customers and are working tirelessly to make available restoration capacity for temporary relief, subject to availability and service configuration specifics,” Mainone said.

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