Unearth the Solution: Terrestrial Connectivity for Africa’s Digital Future

A Call to Explore Alternative Avenues for Connectivity

In the past six months, Africa has been grappling with a rising tide of undersea cable cuts, disrupting Internet connectivity across the continent. These incidents, akin to severed lifelines in the digital (and real) ocean, have caused significant economic setbacks for the affected countries, plunging them into the depths of degraded Internet access for prolonged periods.

Africa relies heavily on undersea cables for international Internet connectivity. These cables, snaking beneath the ocean’s surface, are the arteries through which digital data pulses, connecting the continent to the rest of the world. However, the fragility of these cables exposes Africa to the risk of disruption, as evidenced by the recent surge in incidents.

Over the past half-year, a disconcerting number of undersea cable cuts have been recorded, interrupting vital Internet services across various African nations. These disruptions have rippled through economies, disrupting businesses, educational institutions, and governmental operations. With Internet outages persisting for more than a week in some cases, the cost to affected countries has been staggering.

While these cable cuts have posed significant challenges, network operators have largely managed to work around them and maintain service continuity for their customers. Despite the high risk and exposure, and some noted performance degradation, the overall impact has not been excessively disruptive so far.

A recent article titled “Submarine Cables and East African Internet: Beyond the Cuts  rightly emphasizes the need for strategic foresight beyond mere repairs, advocating for long-term solutions to bolster Africa’s digital infrastructure resilience. The article prompts a crucial discussion on alternative avenues for connectivity repairs – What’s the Long Game?” delves into the broader implications of undersea cable cuts in East and South Africa.

One such alternative gaining traction is the development of terrestrial capacity in Africa. Unlike undersea cables, terrestrial infrastructure comprises land-based networks, offering a resilient and cost-effective solution for intra-continental connectivity. By investing in terrestrial infrastructure, African nations can enhance their overall connectivity and reduce the impact of potential disruptions. However, it is crucial to recognize that submarine and terrestrial networks complement each other rather than compete. Subsea cables remain essential for intercontinental communication, as continents are separated by vast oceans. Together, both infrastructures can provide a robust and integrated network, ensuring reliable and comprehensive Internet services across the region.

By investing in terrestrial infrastructure, we not only mitigate the risks posed by potential disruptions but also foster a more sustainable digital ecosystem within Africa’s borders. Keeping content local and on the continent removes the reliance on submarine connectivity off the continent. As Africa attracts more local presence by global Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), the reliance on off-continent content decreases.

However, the transition to terrestrial capacity requires concerted efforts from governments, private sector stakeholders, and international partners. It necessitates substantial investments in infrastructure development, regulatory frameworks, and capacity-building initiatives. Moreover, it demands a shift in mindset, recognizing the strategic importance of building robust digital ecosystems within Africa’s borders.

The recent surge in undersea cable cuts in Africa underscores the urgent need for proactive measures to safeguard digital connectivity. While repairs are necessary to address immediate disruptions, long-term solutions such as investing in terrestrial capacity offer a sustainable path forward. By charting a course towards resilient digital infrastructure, Africa can navigate the turbulent waters of connectivity challenges and emerge stronger in the digital age.

As the Managing Director of Yafibr East Africa, I’m convinced of the critical importance of embracing terrestrial fibre optics as a game-changing addition to Africa’s connectivity solutions. The recent spate of undersea cable cuts has not only highlighted the vulnerability of our digital lifelines but also underscored the urgent need for a strategic focus on more resilient alternatives.

In our quest to build the “Trade Routes of Tomorrow,” we are exploring alternative avenues for connectivity that go beyond the traditional reliance on undersea cables. Terrestrial fibre optics represents a transformative leap forward, offering a robust and cost-effective solution to intra-continental connectivity challenges. It’s important to note that terrestrial and submarine networks enhance each other, working together to provide comprehensive and reliable connectivity across Africa and beyond.

Other related articles:

Building resilient networks | Yafibr

Why dark fibre | Yafibr

SUBMARINE CABLES AND EAST AFRICAN INTERNET⎮ Beyond The Cuts And Repairs⏤  What’s The Long Game? – CEO East Africa




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