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Ghanaians on edge, await Internet restoration

Opinion

2 months ago
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Millions of Ghanaians continue to wonder in frustration and apprehension, awaiting the full restoration of internet services to bring their business and social lives to normalcy, but technical experts suggest it may take at least five weeks to fully restore local internet service.

With most businesses, communal life, government and non-governmental organisations, and even the national security system depending largely on the usage of internet data, the five-week minimum repair period towards restoration of full internet service as announced by the National Communications Authority (NCA) is creating uneasiness.

Currently, online access to purchase plane tickets, digitalised hospital folders, security data, purchases and payment of electricity and waters bills on the system apps, and various forms of bank transactions have either slowed down or not functioning altogether.

There are fears that the financial, job and other losses associated with the current situation could reach unimaginable levels.

Some organisations, especially financial institutions that could readily afford are resorting to the services of satellite-based internet services.

In its latest updates, the NCA said it recognised the impact the disruptions had had on economic, academic and social activities, and assured the public of its commitment to continue collaborating with relevant stakeholders.

“We expect some improvement in data services in the coming days while the operators work around the clock to restore full connectivity,” the NCA said in a statement.

It said following a crunch meeting with all four subsea cable landing service providers and the three local mobile network operators (MNOs), there was now some clarity about the exact location of the damage, and that preparations were underway to dispatch repair vessels to the location for physical assessment and restoration.

“Based on the above, the subsea cable landing service providers have indicated an estimated time frame of a minimum of five weeks for full service restoration from the time the vessels are dispatched to the various locations,” it said in the statement.

The NCA encouraged MNOS, internet service providers and all other providers to actively participate in the operations of the Ghana Internet Exchange (GIX) in order to ensure an efficient local content delivery and a seamless internet traffic exchange locally.

Causes

The four affected subsea cable landing service providers are ACE, MainOne, SAT-3 and WACS, while AT, MTN and Telecel are the three network operators.

The news and impact of the internet disruptions hit the country last Thursday.

According to international sources, it was the result of damage to four sub-sea cables, with the cause of the cable cutting still unknown, although a shifting of the seabed remains one of the theories.

Other experts have suggested that sometimes undersea cables can get cut even by debris.

The submarine cable problems also impacted internet connectivity in other African countries, including Liberia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, Cameroun, Gabon, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria and Lesotho.

Parliament

Parliament last Thursday raised the issue on the floor of the House, with members sharing personal and other experiences over the development.

It was agreed that the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, would brief the House today.

Customers of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Ghana Water Company have had their fair share of the challenges, especially in paying their bills online or purchasing credit.

Richard Ampare of Darkuman said he tried many times to purchase credit for his smart meter online, but was met with this information: “Unable to establish a remote connection to your meter”.

He said his fear was that should his credit finish he would be without electricity for as long as the problem persisted.

“I hope by the time my entire credit for electricity was finished, the problem would have been resolved, at least partly for us to have our lives back,” he added.

Daniel Boadi Ameyaw, a forex trader, told the Daily Graphic that the past three days of internet disruption had dealt a big blow to his business which he estimated at a loss of over $3,000.

He explained that with the disruption in the internet service, he was unable to trade, monitor charts and foreign exchange trades, all considered fundamental to the forex business.

Johnson Essiam, who is into betting, said he had been affected by the incident as he could not prepare odds for the games over the weekend to make a fortune.

He also lamented that the disruption in internet service had made it difficult to access online-based ride hailing transport services from Uber, Yango and Bolt, which he said he usually used for convenient movement in Accra.

Some ride hailing service drivers interviewed by the Daily Graphic expressed worry about the rate at which the internet disruption had negatively affected their businesses, with sales drawing to their lowest ebb.

Prince Mensah, a Bolt driver, said: “Because everything we do, I mean all our transactions, are internet-based, the issue affected us seriously but thankfully we have seen some reprieve, and we hope that things will normalise very soon”.

source: Donald Ato Dapatem