Dr Joe Anokye, Director-General, NCA, addressing journalists in Accra. Picture: ERNEST KODZI
Dr Joe Anokye, Director-General, NCA, addressing journalists in Accra. Picture: ERNEST KODZI

Preventing Internet disruption recurrence: Connect with fifth Submarine Cable Provider - NCA directs MNOs

Mobile network operators (MNOs) have been directed to establish connections with a new submarine cable provider in the sub-region that has a landing point outside Ghana. 


The National Communications Authority (NCA) directive is to prevent internet disruptions such as the blackout that occurred on March 19 this year when four undersea cables transmitting data to some MNOs in the country were disrupted for reasons that are still unknown.

The Director-General of the NCA, Joe Anokye, at a media briefing in Accra yesterday, emphasised that the directive, among others, aimed to ensure the stability of internet data services.

Mr Anokye explained that although there had been cable breaks over the past decade, it was the first time that all four cables were simultaneously affected, underscoring the necessity of having an additional cable provider outside the country to avoid similar incidents in the future.

"It is not uncommon for cables to experience disruptions, but having all four go down simultaneously is unprecedented. You won’t find in a jurisdiction where all four have gone down but it has happened and so, now we know that can happen,” Mr Anokye added. 

Fifth cable

He said the NCA in 2023 licensed a fifth cable landing operator, Bayobab, operator of the 2Africa cable, with a design capacity of 180 terabytes (tbps), which is about 4.5 times the combined design capacity of the existing cables.

The service is expected to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2024 or earlier, according to the NCA.

Mr Anokye said the 2Africa cable would be the only cable that circled the entire African continent, providing geographical diversity, and, from a distance layout standpoint, was much farther away from the existing four cables in the high seas.

Present situation

Mr Anokye noted that presently, both Telecel and MTN had successfully recovered to 100 per cent capacity following the March 19 incident.

He said while AT had been at 100 per cent capacity since the incident, Telecel was able to restore 100 per cent capacity as of March 19, while MTN recovered 100 per cent capacity for peak time traffic as of March 21. 

Proactive measures

Meanwhile, Mr Anokye said the proactiveness of the regulator and steps it took in 2020 helped to prevent a total internet shutdown in the country following the recent incident.

"I believe that Ghana did not have a total internet shutdown because of the steps we took in 2020,” he said, emphasising that the NCA had been forward looking in its approach to addressing potential disruptions.

As a result of the NCA’s directive issued in April 2020, he said, all MNOs distributed their internet traffic over four cables, with each MNO establishing physical connectivity to three cables.

He said the proactive measure helped to mitigate the impact of the recent disruptions in the submarine cables. Beyond that, he said, MNOs such as AT and MTN took additional steps to ensure uninterrupted internet services for their customers.

He said AT terminated one leg of its connections to a cable operator in Nigeria that was not impacted by the recent disruptions, while MTN procured additional capacity from Ghana to a cable operator in Nigeria to service its internet cache traffic.

Mr Anokye said the NCA also held a meeting with financial stakeholders, public utilities service providers and internet exchanges to discuss recommendations for prioritising key financial and public utility services traffic, hosting services locally at data centres, and participating in internet exchanges to ensure connectivity to local traffic remained local.

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