The economic impact of recent internet outages in Africa

Africa has faced unprecedented internet outages since last week. Internet observatory Netblocks reported that the outage was caused by damage to multiple undersea cables. The damage damaged important submarine fiber optic networks, particularly WACS, MainOne, SAT3 and ACE, causing a severe downturn in the telecommunications industry. Affected countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa and Togo. This prolonged outage adds a layer of complexity to a series of mobile network and internet outages over the past year. These disruptions mark a critical moment in the continent’s digital infrastructure crisis. The economic impact of these internet outages is profound. Businesses in every industry, from finance to manufacturing and e-commerce, rely on internet connectivity to run operations, communicate with customers and consumers, and facilitate transactions. In 2019, many African countries suffered multiple Internet shutdowns, causing losses to Africa of US$5.29 billion. The continuity of these internet and mobile network disruptions will impact productivity and revenue, exacerbating operational difficulties for businesses in an already challenging economy.

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