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07 December 2017
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Zimbabwe lost almost all of its internet access for nearly six hours this week when two of the country’s international fibre connections were cut.
According to Liquid Telecom, customers in Zambia and parts
of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were also
affected by the loss of service.
"We apologise to affected customers in Zimbabwe, Zambia and
parts of DRC for the unexpected interruption of our internet
service," said Liquid Telecom. "This was due to cuts on primary
and secondary fibre routes near the South Africa Zimbabwe
border. Both fibre breaks are fixed and now back in
According to local media in Zimbabwe, the first cut occurred
when a tractor cut through a fibre in the Limpopo province of
South Africa, close to the border.
But shortly afterwards there was a second failure, this time to
TelOne’s cable into Botswana, which was used as a
back-up to the main Liquid Telecom connection.
TelOne said later: "Our back-up link through Botswana has since
been restored and together with the link through Mozambique we
are operating at 50% capacity. Our partners in South Africa and
TelOne engineers here in Zimbabwe are on the ground working to
restore full service on the said major link."
The main South African connection was restored about four and a
half hours after the tractor did its damage. Liquid Telecom has
about an 80% share of internet connectivity into
Customers of mobile operators – including Econet
Wireless, part of the same group that owns Liquid Telecom
– were affected by the cuts.
The company said: "Econet Wireless apologises to its valued
customers for the data outage … resulting in customers
being unable to access the internet and related data services
on our network. A company spokesman said the outage was due a
technical fault which has since been resolved. Econet sincerely
apologises for any inconvenience caused."
Communications minister Supa Mandiwanzira told
Harare’s Daily News that the government was upset.
"The country cannot experience a shutdown at a time when we
actually should be focusing on enabling business. The internet
is key in enabling business and doing transactions."