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Submarine-Cable Disruptions: NCA’s proactiveness ensured Ghana’s internet resilience – Dr Anokye

Dr Joseph Anokye, the Director-General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), says the proactive actions by the Authority is the reason Ghana did not experience complete internet outage during the undersea cable disruptions on March 14, 2024.

A number of countries along the West African Coast through to South Africa experienced widespread and massive internet outages when four submarine cables, which coincidentally were operational in Ghana, got disrupted underseas, leading to disruptions in data services.

During the outage, consumers on AT did not experience any disruptions whiles those on MTN and Telecel had minimum internet access.

All three mobile network operators (MNOs) in Ghana have since been restored to full internet capacity while the submarine cable providers are continuing repair works.

Addressing the media in Accra on Sunday on the disruptions, Dr Anokye said the NCA had been proactive since 2020 and had directed MNOs to establish and maintain physical cable connections to at least t
hree submarine cable providers for redundancy and resilience.

‘The NCA had directed MNOs to establish and maintain physical cable connections to at least three submarine cable providers for redundancy and resilience – this was back in April 2020, and all MNOs adhered to this,’ Dr Anokye said.

He explained that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Authority had a series of meetings with various stakeholders to find out what level of support they needed.

The proactive engagements and subsequent directives to MNOs contributed to Ghana not experiencing complete internet outage on 14th March 2024.

The NCA Boss said in one of those meetings, the NCA focused on risk assessment of mobile network operator’s capacities and their redundancies to Subsea Cable Landing Service Providers.

Subsequently, from a national emergency point of view, all MNOs were, in a letter dated 30th April 2020, directed to establish and maintain physical cable connections to at least three submarine cable companies.

‘Further to the above, a
ll redundant cable connections should be capable of being lighted within 24-hours in the event of outage on your primary links,’ he said.

‘It was based on this directive that AT secured a third leg of its cable provider in Nigeria, leading to they having service, with MTN also having another leg in Nigeria with some capacity that was relied on during the crisis.’

On the way forward, Dr Anokye said the Authority would require MNOs to make provisions for another leg of their cable to land with a cable provider who did not land in-country but was close by.

‘We are happy to note also that the NCA in 2023, licensed a fifth cable landing operator, Bayobab, operator of the 2Africa Cable with a design capacity of 180tbps, which is about four times the combined design capacity of the existing cables; this service is expected to be operational by 4th quarter of 2024 or sooner,’ he announced.

The 2Africa would be the only cable that circles the entire African continent – providing geographical diversity.

ly, from a distance layout standpoint, the 2Africa Cable is much farther away from the existing four cables in the high seas.

Dr Anokye disclosed that the NCA had augmented its existing satellite licensing portfolio to include recent broadband satellite services to provide alternative connectivity options for domestic and enterprise users.

‘We will work with regulators and the industry in the sub-region to encourage the extension of inter-country terrestrial fibre to enhance resilience of its respective internet connectivity’.

The National Communications Authority (NCA) was established by an Act of Parliament, Act 524, in December 1996, which has been repealed and replaced by the National Communications Authority Act, 2008 (Act 769).

It is the statutory body mandated to license and regulate electronic communication activities and services in the country.

Source: Ghana News Agency