Yesterday, for more than seven hours, internet for Infocom, Warid, MTN and Orange customers was down. Work came to a standstill in offices, internet cafes, and mobile money transactions failed.
Odokolo John (20), an affected client of Namuwongo tried for close to three hours to send money through MTN mobile money to his sick nephew but in vain.

“My nephew has been waiting for the money to go to hospital. I have been told the system is down because of a glitch in internet connection,” Mr Odokolo said yesterday amidst frustration.

The problem has been attributed to yet another break down in the inland cables in Mombasa. This is the second time in as many weeks the major fibre cables in Kenya are damaged disrupting internet connectivity.

The first occurrence happened late last month following a break down in the East African Marine System Cables (Teams), which carries data to the East African coast. This was after a ship dropped its anchor onto a fibre-optic cable off Kenya’s coast, causing a total shut down of the cables that facilitate internet connectivity.

According to Uganda Communication Commission Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi, the main link- the major line that carries data from the Kenya coast to the inland, (from Mombasa to the interior of East Africa) is Seacom which has since had a cut, and thus the break down in internet connectivity yesterday.

“Internet connectivity has been affected following a cut on a fibre cable. This is a Kenyan problem not Ugandan…we are a landlocked country and depend on Kenya. For as long as the problem in Kenya is solved, we shall be connected again,” Mr Mutabazi said.

He further explained: “However, what people should know is that Seacom cable, which has been damaged, is the main link to Uganda, the other alternative or backup is satellite connection which is very expensive.”

Service providers have promised that they are doing all it takes to have internet back. In an email to Daily Monitor, Infocom explained that the major fibre-cable cut in Kenya was affecting both primary and secondary links to the internet. Warid Chief Commercial Officer Shailendra Naidu said; “Our Internet had a problem in the morning as a result of fibre-cable disruption. However, we have been able to resolve it.”

Orange Uganda, too was affected. In a message to their customers, they said; “… we are experiencing a service interruption on our back up link to Kenya which has affected your internet experience.”
Internet usage in Uganda continues to be constrained by absence of adequate infrastructures.

By FLAVIA NALUBEGA & NICHOLAS KALUNGI, Daily Monitor

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