There’s light at the end of the tunnel for sub-Saharan Africans who have waited 10 days for repairs to the undersea West Africa Cable System (WACS), but it looks as if the wait is not over yet.
The repairs required a ship to leave from Cape Town to travel to the cable break near Congo, and the good news is the vessel – the Leon Thevenin – is making progress. The ship left Friday with a full crew and some 150 kilometers of cable, and was expected to reach its first repair stop off Angola by Tuesday.
“The Leon Thevenin is a fit-for-purpose undersea cable deployment and maintenance vessel that is staffed with highly skilled technical personnel,” said OpenServe, the infrastructure arm of South Africa’s Telkom, which is coordinating repairs.
The 16,000-kilometer system runs along the continent’s western coast, and from South Africa to the UK, connecting much of western and central Africa to Europe and each other. Complete system repairs are not expected until early February, with the work taking about a week. A second WACS break near the UK likely won’t be fixed until this week either.
In a “perfect storm” of incidents, another cable, the SAT3/WACS, also was damaged and unable to support rerouted traffic, with that break site believed to be near Libreville, the capital of Gabon.
That’s left dozens of service providers scrambling to respond to complaints and thousands of Africans dealing with absent or slow service, as the cable system feeds terminals on the west coast that connect to interior nations and locations.