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Undersea cable cut cripples bank digital channels, business operations



The digital banking channels of many commercial banks were shut down on Thursday due to widespread internet disruption that affected parts of East and West Africa.

Major undersea cables close to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, are reportedly damaged, and this caused internet outages in West and South African nations.

The West Africa Cable System (WACS), the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT3 are the undersea cables that have been reported to be impacted so far.

A survey by Nigerian NewsDirect revealed that many mobile banking applications were failing.

One app whose widespread failure Nigerians were alarmed by was the FCMB mobile app.

Nigerians also took to their X (formerly Twitter) handles to berate the failure of the banking app to enable them to perform transactions.

An X user (@TheBig_Louu) said: “You can actually take a shower, boil water, and turn eba, even peel boiled eggs, while trying to open FCMB mobile app, and you would have done all these and still have time to spare before the app opens.”

Another user (@affyman) stated that he was almost stranded due to the inability to perform transactions on his FCMB app.

He said: “Fcmb almost made me trek home today wtf>ØrÝ”

Speaking to Nigerian NewsDirect, a business owner involved in food deliveries lamented the spate of the internet shut down.

“I noticed I couldn’t make transfers and my customers were unable to transfer to me. This impacted negatively on my sales.”

Similarly, a customer who spoke to Nigerian NewsDirect noted that she was unable to order her lunch due to the downtime her banking apps were experiencing.

“I was trying to make payment for my lunch but the transaction kept failing and the vendor couldn’t proceed with my order.”

Nigerian NewsDirect investigations revealed that the shutdown of digital banking channels of banks is not unconnected to the telecoms infrastructure of telecom companies which many banks rely on.

In a message to its customers on Thursday, MTN said, “Y’ello! We apologise for the challenges you may be experiencing with internet speed and accessing data services at the moment.

“This is as a result of damage to international undersea cables across East & West Africa. The repair process is ongoing to resolve the situation as soon as possible. Please look out for further updates.”

However, Glo 1, which is owned by Globacom, the largest provider of digital services in Nigeria, was untouched by the damage and is still running as usual.

Glo 1-powered financial institutions, internet service providers, and data consumers have all carried on with business as usual. Industry observers are of the view that Glo 1 International Submarine Cable’s resilient construction and durability are the reasons the damage did not compromise the cable.

Nigerian NewsDirect also recalls that two submarine cable systems that service the Nigerian market also suffered damage and cut off the coast of West Africa in 2023.

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