How financial sector grapples with internet disruptions

TANZANIA: SOME commercial banks and mobile telephone companies advised customers to use alternative channels as mobile apps and internet banking services remained down for the second day running on Tuesday due to subsea cable faults.

Commercial banks have had to adjust to serve increasing customers who resorted to over-the-counter services as digital banking services were disrupted.

Likewise, mobile network operators who offer financial services such as Vodacom Tanzania, Airtel, and TTCL confirmed disruptions to their services and some advised customers to use the USSD channel in money transactions as mobile app and internet banking services were affected by the outage. Chairman of the Tanzania Bank Association (TBA), Theobald Sabi, confirmed that they were working with internet service providers to restore connectivity and return to normal operations as quickly as possible.

“In the interim, banks have enhanced the operational capabilities of their physical branches to accommodate the influx of walk-in customers who were otherwise served via the impacted alternative channels,” said Mr Sabi in the statement.

Airtel Tanzania said in a public notice that they were working with international partners to fix the problem and later yesterday told their customers that connectivity had improved.

“Airtel Tanzania would like to inform the public of the undersea cable cut that occurred on 12th May 2024 from 11hrs, an incident that impacted our customers. We have taken all possible measures to minimize the impact, our teams and partners are working on full restoration of the service,” the public note reads in part.

TTCL and Vodacom issued similar messages, noting they were working with experts to restore the internet services. Internet services across East Africa were disrupted since Sunday due to faults in the undersea cables connecting the region to the rest of the world via South Africa.

According to a tweet from Netblocks, the cable cut impacted internet services in Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Comoros, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Mozambique, Mayotte, Madagascar, and Tanzania. Netblocks added that the impact was particularly severe in Tanzania, Mayotte, Mozambique, and Malawi.

“Network data show a disruption to Internet connectivity in and around multiple East Africa countries; the incident is attributed to failures affecting the SEACOM and EASSY subsea cable systems,” said the global web monitor NetBlocks on X. According to Cloudflare Radar, which monitors Internet connectivity, Tanzania is one of the worstaffected countries with traffic falling to 24 per cent of expected levels on Sunday and on Wednesday.

Cloudflare Radar also reported that Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar have been affected. The Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Ben Roberts, tweeted on Sunday that the outages were due to a cut on the EASSy club cable that runs between Sudan and South Africa and plays a major role in connecting East African countries to data centers in South Africa.

Roberts also said that a fault had also been observed on the Seacom subsea cable that runs along a similar route but goes further up the Red Sea to Egypt.

According to a report from TechCentral, WIOCC Group CEO Chris Wood confirmed the EASSy cable had been cut between South Africa and Mozambique. Seacom also confirmed a break in its system, saying that its PoPs in Maputo and Dar es Salaam were unreachable, the report said.

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