Submarine cables, Internet connectivity

Submarine cables, Internet connectivity

The Internet enables communication essential to the efficient management of business, the smooth administration of governments and improved organisation for individual users.

Technologies of the camera, film, radio, telephone and television are now altered or entirely replaced with faster and more dynamic media. This technology on your smartphone or computer allows more manipulation and control. This has improved the way we communicate.

The vast majority of the world's intercontinental Internet traffic is transported by submarine cables, fixed on the floor of the ocean. They provide the infrastructure that enables rapid and reliable transmission of data across the world's oceans; connecting people, businesses and nations.

In the event of damage to a particular cable, traffic is comfortably rerouted to one of several available cables. In Africa, fewer cables exist, meaning there is a lack of infrastructure to meet the growing demand for technology.

On March 14, 2024, four major submarine cables serving Ghana and several other African countries were severely damaged near Côte d'Ivoire. Seismic activity on the seabed is the supposed cause but this isn't clear. 

The National Communications Authority (NCA) states it will take at least five weeks to fix.


The use of Internet services was affected and these are some experiences shared from around Ghana:

Running on backup was slower than usual, with communication disturbed for hours on end.

More than a week later, breaks in connectivity still occur, lasting about four hours.

Sales representative, Auto Industry.

ATMs affected, up to 48-hour delays with deposits, withdrawals and foreign remittances.

Bank employee

I struggle to post content and experience low reach as my audience faces similar problems.

I’ve missed deadlines and lost jobs with foreign clients. Blogger, Entertainment

Our media landscape has migrated to social media platforms that thrive on Internet access.

If this downward trend continues, a lot of media businesses will come to a screeching halt. This event reveals the inadequacies in our telecommunication networks. We must find other sources of connectivity. 

Film producer and entertainment business executive

Every business needs a backup, how much more is the communications industry? Further, for what consumers are charged, the regulator should steer the industry to have backups. Technology today is life-critical, not desirable. MoMo balances are more than the deposits of Standard Chartered, which has been in business for over 150 years! Financial analyst

Health Information Management Systems slowed down tremendously. This created longer queues, more time spent waiting, and frustration among clients. 

Hospital administrator

Clients with high capacity and dedicated services were prioritised over individual consumers, mainly on social media. Remote workers like programmers and developers lost their jobs. 

Sales representative, Internet Service Provider (ISP)

It was difficult to make reservations during this time. 

Travel agent

We couldn't cater for new sim requests. Some of our third-party applications developed problems.

With MoMo services, bank-to-wallet and wallet-to-bank transactions presented complications, with challenges still pending. 

Employee, Mobile Network Operator (MNO)

Many traders experienced a decline in sales. We use the Internet to send print designs to printers in Ghana and China. I have lost many jobs. 

Trader, Makola (Fabric retail)

We advertise on Instagram, Tik Tok and WhatsApp. We make payments with MoMo.

Business has slowed down drastically. 

Trader, Tudu (Hardware and building materials)


On March 24, 2024, the Director-General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Dr Joe Anokye, announced measures to prevent a repeat of the situation:

Network operators are directed to connect to an additional cable, the 2Africa, operational from the last quarter of 2024. 

2Africa circles the entire African continent and is distanced from the existing cables, which are on the high seas. It also delivers 4.5 times its combined capacity.

NCA expands their satellite licensing portfolio to offer Broadband satellite services as an alternative for both domestic and enterprise users.

The NCA will collaborate with regulators and the industry in the sub-region to encourage the extension of inter-country terrestrial fibre.

Mobile network operator, Telecel, has offered compensation to subscribers and the NCA intends to intervene to ensure compliance. It also hopes that other operators offer similar compensation.

A major network operator, MTN, secured extra capacity to improve the quality of service for its customers.


In summary, submarine cables are vital for global communication, Internet connectivity, and our socioeconomic well-being.

March 14 serves as a reminder of the vulnerability of our modern technological society to the unpredictable force of nature, and the importance of preparedness and mitigation strategies to minimise potential impacts.

Given our dependence on technology and interconnected systems, a more severe recurrence has the potential to significantly disrupt our daily lives and how we communicate.

The writer is a freelance journalist, feature news producer, and news fixer with over 20 years of experience.

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