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Sub-sea cable incidents a call for resilience

from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN – THE recent disruption of undersea cables highlights the need for network resilience.

This is the word from a technology executive after South Africa was not spared the African Coast to Europe, South Atlantic 3 (SAT 3) and the West Africa Submarine Cable  (WASC) suffered setbacks.

“In light of recent disruptions involving undersea Internet cables, the importance of these cables for South Africa and the entire continent cannot be overstated,” said Bertrandt Delport, Country Host, BT South Africa.

He said acting as the continent’s digital arteries, these cables represent crucial entry points into the region.

“As digitalisation rapidly advances, especially in light of the presence and anticipated impact of hyperscalers in South Africa and throughout the continent, the significance of these cables become even more pronounced.”

South Africa’s undersea cable network is hailed as an indispensable digital lifeline, tethering the country to the global digital community.

Delport said daily, these cables process terabytes of data, underpinning nearly every local sector, from mining to finance, healthcare, entertainment and e-commerce.

This connectivity stimulates trade, promotes information exchange, and fosters international research and development collaborations.

The economic boost provided by the network augments the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), facilitating the burgeoning digital economy, the executive said.

Approximately 80 percent of Africa’s Internet traffic courses through South Africa, underscoring its key role as a digital beacon for the continent.

As Delport noted, such pivotal infrastructure has inherent risks.

These range from challenges to connectivity reliability, potential lengthy downtimes affecting service quality and reputational hazards arising from adverse customer experiences.

“Our commitment to foresight and adaptability has been unwavering,” Delport assured.

He said drawing lessons from a 2021 incident, for instance, allowed the company to buttress its strategies, ensuring businesses are insulated against such risks.

“Historically, our forward-thinking approach has manifested in investments in key undersea cable consortiums, pivotal for global communication and data relay.”

Delport mentioned the SAT 3/WASC, South Africa Far East (SAFE) and Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy) cables, enhancing connectivity between Africa, Asia and Europe.

The official believes the recent unveiling of new cables, like 2Africa by META and Equiano by Google, heralds a new era for African connectivity.

“A burgeoning competitive landscape augments both capacity and affordability – a boon, especially for regions like Africa,” Delport said.

– CAJ News

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