East Africa Submarine Cable Repairs Underway

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– Internet Disruption: The Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy) and Seacom cables experienced faults over the weekend of May 12, 2024, disrupting internet connectivity in East African nations.

– Impact: The disruptions impacted internet traffic in countries like Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

– Cause: The cause of the faults is believed to be related to the damage caused by the anchor of the Rubymar, a cargo ship that was damaged by a ballistic missile on February 18.

– Previous Incidents: This incident is the second time in three months that the cables have been damaged, with the previous incident occurring on February 24.

– Repairs: Repairs are expected to be completed in several days once the necessary permits are secured and the cable faults are located. However, there may be a delay in engaging a cable repair ship and traveling to the area where the damage occurred.

– Mitigation Efforts: Some internet service providers, such as Safaricom and Airtel Kenya, have activated redundancy measures to minimize service inter

– Departure: The specialized repair vessel, Léon Thévenin, departed Cape Town Harbour on May 14, 2024, at 3:45 p.m. UTC ¹.
– Purpose: The ship is scheduled to repair the faults on the Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy) and Seacom cables that occurred on May 12, 2024 ¹.
– Capabilities: The Léon Thévenin is equipped to handle underwater repairs in depths ranging from 10 meters to 7 kilometers and carries various tools for cable detection, retrieval, splicing, and testing ¹.
– Arrival: The vessel was expected to arrive at the cable grounds on May 18 at around 05:00 a.m.

– Repair Vessel: Léon Thévenin, an undersea cable repair ship owned by Orange’s Marine, has recently completed repairs on the SAT-3 cable near Abidjan and is now heading to the East Coast to focus on the EASSy and Seacom cables.

– EASSy Cable: The EASSy cable spans 10,000 kilometers and serves as the backbone for East Africa’s voice, data, and internet traffic.

– Seacom Cable: Seacom offers fiber-optic pairs from Mtunzini in South Africa to a point of presence (PoP) in Marseille. It is still suffering from a cable break in the Red Sea that can’t be repaired due to Houthi rebel activity in the region.

– Cable Breaks: The faults occurred on Sunday, May 12, 2024, and the vessel is expected to arrive at the cable grounds at around 05:00 on Saturday, May 18.

– Repair Capabilities: The Léon Thévenin can tackle repairs in water as shallow as 10 meters or as deep as 7 kilometers. Onboard, it is equipped with various cable work tools and a remotely operated vehicle that can be used to detect, cut, recover, join, and test undersea fiber cables.

– Internet Disruptions: Internet disruptions in South Africa may have been caused by both subsea cable faults and terrestrial cable failures ¹.
– Subsea Cable Faults: Subsea cables, like the West Africa Cable System (WACS) and the South Atlantic Telecommunications Cable number three (SAT-3), experienced faults, leading to internet disturbances ².
– Terrestrial Cable Failures: Additional terrestrial cable failures may have contributed to the internet disruptions, although the exact cause and extent are unclear ¹.
– Impact: The disruptions affected internet services, causing slow loading or inaccessible websites, and impacted network operators and internet service providers ².
– Repair Efforts: A consortium of partners, including Openserve, worked to repair and restore the damaged cables.

The repair vessel Léon Thévenin is anticipated to arrive at the site of the cable fault by Saturday, May 18th, marking a crucial milestone in the restoration process. Upon completion of the repairs, internet connectivity in East Africa is expected to be fully restored, bringing relief to the region and signaling a return to normalcy for online services.

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