The Public Utilities and Regulatory Authority (PURA) has announced plans to secure a second fiber optic cable and extra backup facilities amid frequent internet blackout due to cable cuts.

“The authorities, operators, MOICI, and the Government of the Gambia are exploring other options of making sure that Gambia has a second fiber cable backup considering the impact it has on national security, economy and social activities. 

“The authority in consultation with the Ministry of Information determined that all operators must have a permanent backup of traffic on the African Coast for Europe [ ACE] cable to ensure services are not disrupted when ACE fiber is faulty,” the regulatory body said.

It said that the operators complied and have bought the necessary bandwidth to the Sonatel fiber via Senegal to the outside world, the sonatel fiber is routed from Gambia via Amdalaye to select for redundancy purposes.

“The ACE fiber cable is currently faulty and being repaired by the consortium and due to the permanent backup that the operators had, customers were able to seamlessly communicate with the outside world without any major issues. 

“Sonatel had a technical issue with the fiber cable which resulted in the whole country experiencing an internet blackout for four hours,” the body added.

According to PURA, the Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure, GSC, and telecommunication providers have determined that the frequency of the ACE fiber cable cuts is as a result of fishing activities on a rocky area that the cable is laid.

It further stated that the regulation declaring the area as a protection zone has been enacted and the procurement of shipping vehicles for the Gambia navy to patrol the area has commenced.

“The Gambia’s telecommunications and internet communications to the outside world are routed mainly through the African coast for Europe [ACE] fiber submarine cable. 

The ACE consortium consists of over 23 member countries that have routed the fiber cable from France to South Africa via the west coast of Africa,” it said. 

 “The Gambia government through the assistance of the World Bank invested ­­­25 million US dollars to be connected on the ACE cable, the planning and implementation of the submarine fiber cable was done by a major telecommunications manufacturer, ALCATEL of France.”

It also said that the past five years, the ACE cable has been experiencing cable cuts on the fiber segment branching to the Gambia resulting in major disruptions on our telecommunications and internet communications with the outside world.

Reporting by Mama A. Touray

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