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Internet Outage Sparks Chaos: Banks, Telcom, and Customers Struggle to Cope

In a crippling blow to Nigeria’s digital infrastructure, Thursday’s severing of undersea cables delivering broadband Internet to the nation and other West African countries triggered chaos across various sectors. Telcos, banks, and other critical service providers were forced to navigate a landscape of limited connectivity, leaving customers stranded and operations grinding to a halt.

Telecoms and Financial Institutions Struggle

The fallout from the cable cuts sent shockwaves through the telecommunications and banking sectors. Telco engineers rushed to repair points of damage between Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire, striving to restore vital fiber optic connections originating from Europe.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) confirmed the extensive disruptions, highlighting the significant impact on data and voice services along the African West Coast. Several countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and Cote d’Ivoire, bore the brunt of the outage, experiencing sluggish Internet speeds and disrupted telecom services.

Banks Count Losses, Customers Left Frustrated

For banks heavily reliant on Internet connectivity, the disruptions translated into significant losses. With systems down and transactions delayed, financial institutions struggled to maintain operations. Customers faced frustration as they grappled with the inability to carry out transactions or access banking apps and USSD services.

Spokespersons for various banks emphasized the magnitude of the challenge, underscoring the urgent need for stakeholders and governments to address critical tech infrastructure deficiencies.

Alternative Channels Advised, But Frustration Persists

As financial institutions scrambled to mitigate the impact, customers were urged to explore alternative transaction channels. However, reports emerged of continued frustration as ATMs remained offline, online banking transactions failed, and customer service units struggled to cope with the influx of complaints.

Despite assurances of network resilience from some banks, many customers found themselves stranded without access to essential banking services, exacerbating their frustration.

Telcos Battle Network Disruptions

Telecom subscribers also bore the brunt of the disruptions, with reports of difficulty making calls, sending messages, and accessing mobile data services. Telcos, particularly MTN Nigeria, faced challenges in restoring services, with disruptions impacting millions of subscribers across the country.

While efforts were underway to repair damaged cables and reroute traffic, subscribers continued to experience intermittent service disruptions, compounding their frustration.

Customs Agents, Traders Grapple with Payment Delays

At the nation’s seaports, licensed customs agents faced hurdles in making payments due to the disruptions. Cargo clearance processes were hampered, leading to delays and frustration among traders and agents alike. The inability to complete transactions exacerbated logistical challenges and disrupted supply chains.

Calls for Localized Solutions

In the wake of this crisis, stakeholders must heed the call to invest in resilient infrastructure and localize content to safeguard against future disruptions. The events of Thursday serve as a stark reminder of the fragility of Africa’s digital ecosystem and the imperative of building resilience in the face of adversity.

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