Safaricom’s data outage and the state of affairs [UPDATED]

Bob Collymore

Bob CollymoreSafaricom Data service has been weak since Saturday. This is due to a fibre cut some 4 kilometres off the Kenyan coast. According to Nzioka Waita of Safaricom, the cable was cut by a ship dragging a trawler near the TEAMS cable entry point. And were it any closer it would have compromised all cable capacity coming via sea as the entry point for all the cables is one. This fibre cut prompted Safaricom to move data and voice capacity handled by TEAMS cable to SEACOM.

Currently, 50% of Safaricom Data transmission is handled by TEAMS, so the capacity transferred to SEACOM is overwhelming the service provider. Bob Collymore told me that currently Safaricom has rerouted MPESA use to Satellite which is way expensive than fibre but the customer has to be given consistency of service at an extra cost as they wait for the fixing of the TEAMS cable.

Bob added that the rerouted data capacity should ensure that there is some capacity for all the users but acknowledged its a weak service. About how soon we should expect service he was non-committal as it’s beyond Safaricom, but he was going to check for updates and brief us on the same. I also came to learn that the EASSY cable also has a fibre cut at near Fujaira in Dubai, so we have some bit of patience to have.

Statement from Joel Tanui of TEAMS:

A major cut has occurred on the TEAMS (The East African Marine Systems) cable at the coast, cutting a crucial link for the bulk of internet and international voice traffic in the region.

The cut, which occurred on Saturday February 25, was caused by a ship off the coast of Mombasa. This resulted in complete loss of traffic.

“We wish to notify all our stakeholders of ongoing emergency repair works and apologize unreservedly for any inconvenience this may cause. The cable should be fully operational within the next three weeks,” said TEAMS’ General Manager Joel Tanui.

He added that TEAMS had already notified its shareholders and the undersea cable maintenance company E-Marine to commence repair work on the damaged cable. These works are expected to take about 3 weeks with maximum effort being made to reduce the downtime and its impact.

A landmark public-private partnership, TEAMS is the premier undersea cable system serving the entire East African region. Besides the Government of Kenya, the other shareholders in the TEAMS consortium include Safaricom, Jamii Telecom, Wananchi, Essar, Kenya Data Networks, Access Kenya, Telkom Orange and Bandwidth & Cloud Services.

And a rejoinder from Bob

 “We have been advised that owing to the highly specialised nature of the repair work, an external team has been despatched to Mombasa and that the operation may take as long as three weeks. We thank our customers for their patience and understanding during this time and assure them of our commitment to the best data experience in Kenya,” said Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore.