Submarine fibre optic cables
Submarine fibre optic cables

We must install back-ups against technology failures

Barely a month ago, the country was struck by a nationwide internet disruption due to outages on multiple submarine fibre optic cables that connect Ghana.


The National Communications Authority (NCA), in a press statement, confirmed that multiple undersea cable disruptions had affected mobile and fixed data services nationwide in the country.

It said the disruptions that affected the multiple undersea cables responsible for carrying international traffic had occurred in Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire, adding that there were also some disruptions in Portugal, a development which led to a significant degradation of data services across the country.

In another press statement issued by the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications on Thursday, March 14, 2024, the chamber explained that “further investigations are being carried out, as well as work to resolve the problems to restore service to our customers”.

It said some of the fibre optic cables were down while others were delivering limited capacity impacting Internet, data and Voice over IP (VolP) services of the members of the Chamber, the Mobile Network Operators and the Data Service Providers to varying degrees. As a result, customers and subscribers experienced service challenges which caused fear and panic in the system.

The Daily Graphic believes that much as the problems seem almost fully resolved, the unfortunate phenomenon should serve as a  wake-up call for the country to find appropriate back-up systems that are potent enough to kick in, in case of a recurrence of the challenge.

What we need to know is that technology, no matter how robust it is at the initial stages, can fail in the twinkling of an eye and cause major disruptions which could be fatal or irreparable.

To us, knowing how technology works and evolves very fast, we must, at all times be on top of issues to avoid such unfortunate situations.

The sector ministry and the industry regulator should have had it as their plan to conduct mock exercises at regular intervals to test our resilience and preparedness in case such eventualities strike and ascertain where we fall short. This would have enabled us to know our deficiencies and the necessary back-ups installed.

The paper is aware of moves by the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation to quickly license satellite companies to act as a stand-in for mobile network carriers in the event that their services are disrupted.

Though this is a bit late, we think it is good, and as the sages say, it is better late than never.

But as a country, one area we must work on is our reactive nature. In many instances we seem to react to situations only when they occur. 

This is at variance with the many experts we have and who man such strategic areas of our national life. We must always envisage some of these situations and work ahead to put in buffers that will ameliorate the adverse effects, particularly when it comes to technology, as the consequences are dire because of its national security implications and impact on businesses which pay taxes to the state.

We are told that with regard to the use of satellite as an alternative, it is important to note that the bandwidth of a satellite backup for network operators cannot replace the capacity that has been lost due to the outage. Satellite back-up for consumers therefore is more feasible.

However, the cost is relatively much higher than the terrestrial solutions. But whatever the situation is, we should not wait for this to happen before we act.

The cost of such disruptions far outweighs any further waiting for things to take us by surprise. Therefore, the earlier the ministry and its agencies work to ensure there is adequate back-up in place, the better for us all.

The Daily Graphic would like to advise that we move a step further to position ourselves for the next step beyond satellite so that in case both fail, we can be secure because technology is not static.

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