Four submarine cables linking East Africa to the Middle East and Europe have been severed within a two-week period, the Wall Street Journal reports, affecting data transfer rates in as many as nine different countries. According to the WSJ, a ship allegedly dropped anchor in a restricted area off the coast of Kenya on Saturday, cutting The East African Marine Systems (TEAMS) cable – just days after three other submarine cables were severed in the Red Sea between Djibouti and the Middle East. The Europe India Gateway (EIG), the South East Asia Middle East Western Europe-3 (SMW-3) and the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSY), were all compromised ten days earlier in mysterious circumstances.
Chris Wood, chief executive of EASSY’s majority shareholder West Indian Ocean Cable, told the WSJ: ‘It’s a very unusual situation. I believe these were accidental incidents, although more will be known when we bring the cables up from the sea bed’. Wood confirmed that the cables in the Red Sea were all severed at the same time, around 650 feet below the Red Sea, but stressed that a passing ship could have done the damage because the water is so shallow. However, a number of frustrated operators across East Africa have complained to the press of suspected sabotage. Both TEAMS and EASSY are expected to be repaired within the next three weeks. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Ethiopia are believed to be among the countries hit by the outage.