Gambia Hit With A General Internet Blackout For 12 Hours
Gambians woke up this Tuesday with yet another black out of internet services and international calls, all over the country. It is the second general internet blackout of the kind in a week span and the third in about a month.
The Chronicle has reliably learnt that the shutdown has to do with a power outage in the Senegal base Sonatel station that hosts the connectivity between The Gambia and Senegal, via the ACE cable.
Though being the depository of the internet gateway in The Gambia, Gamtel went mute on the breakdown. The Chronicle made series of phone calls to the Public Relation Officer (PRO) of Gamtel. None of the multiple calls was replied.
This 12-hour long major disruption is a vivid reminder about the urgent need for The Gambia to set up a standby internet infrastructure that would cater for emergency situations like those hitting the country of late, at the bitter expense of the internet users as well as businesses and institutions that are heavily dependent on internet for their international transactions.
A week ago, Gambia’s President Adama Barrow missed a crucial meeting with his pairs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) because of an impromptu 6 hour long internet shut down. Being out of loop by virtue of the internet blackout, President Barrow missed the opportunity to discuss crucial details with his pairs with regards to ECOWAS restructuring, the extension or not of the current chair’s mandate, the push by Guinea-Bissau and Cap-Verde to stick to the current rotation. Overall, President Barrow missed the chance to make a final case, to his ECOWAS pairs, for Fatoumatta Tambajang’s candidacy as vice-chair of the African Union. She eventually got defeated last Saturday.
With The Gambia off internet, subscribers from the different mobile GSM companies received text messages alerting them to the internet and international calls being shut down. The Africell text message to its customers reads: “Due to an outage on the backup cable affecting the entire country all data services and international calls are down. We will update you when services are restored’’.
Qcell, another GSM company in The Gambia sent an alert text message informing the general public about the current internet temporary termination. “Please note that there is a general internet outage in the Gambia. The issue is being handled with utmost urgency. We apologize for the inconvenience caused’’ the Qcell text message reads.