Cable repair ship arrives in Cape Town to fix South Africa’s internet

The cable layer Léon Thévenin has arrived in Cape Town harbor to repair breaks in the Wacs and Sat-3 subsea cables, critical for South Africa’s internet connectivity and economy.

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Source: Wikipedia

The cable layer Léon Thévenin has arrived in Cape Town harbour after a nine-day voyage from Mombasa, Kenya. In August, the ship arrived in Kenya to repair breaks in the West Africa Cable System (Wacs) and South Atlantic 3 (Sat-3) subsea cables caused by a probable rock fall in the Congo Canyon. Following resupply in Cape Town, the ship will continue its trek up Africa’s western coast in search of the location of the breaks. According to preliminary estimates, Wacs repairs could be finished by 8 September, depending on weather conditions. 

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Cable repair ship arrives in Cape Town to fix South Africa's internet 2

The breaks in the cables have caused disruptions in broadband speeds and stability in South Africa. Notably, these breaks impact South Africa’s connectivity to Europe but do not affect other high-capacity international subsea cables available in the region. Some major content owners and distributors, such as Facebook and Akamai, lack sufficient redundant capacity and rely heavily on Wacs. As a result, during peak video streaming times, they struggle to bring content from their international servers to South Africa, forcing users to fetch content from servers in other locations. This places additional pressure on local Internet service providers to increase their international capacity.

The development of fixing the broken undersea cables is an important policy for several reasons, including:

  1. Internet connectivity: The undersea cables are critical to internet infrastructure, and their breakage has caused widespread internet interruptions in the country. The repair of the cables will help restore internet connectivity in South Africa.
  2. Economic impact: The disruption of internet connectivity can have a significant impact on the economy, particularly in the digital sector. The repair of the undersea cables will help mitigate the economic impact of internet interruptions and ensure that businesses can continue to operate.
  3. International cooperation: The repair of the undersea cables requires international cooperation between countries and companies. This cooperation is essential for the maintenance and repair of digital infrastructure.