Page last updated at 08:49 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 09:49 UK

West Africa net service restored

Man on a mobile phone
The cause of the fault has not been revealed

A cable fault that caused a major blackout of internet services across West Africa has been repaired.

The damage was discovered 25km (15 miles) off the coast of Benin on a branch of the SAT-3 cable, which connects Europe to South Africa.

The fault knocked out 70% of Nigeria's bandwidth, causing severe problems for its banking sector, government and mobile phone networks.

Services were severely disrupted or knocked out in Togo, Niger and Benin.

Countries had to either reroute traffic overland or use expensive satellite links to maintain connectivity.

Nigeria was particularly badly hit because around 70% of its bandwidth is routed through neighbouring Benin.

The network, run by Suburban Telecom, was set up to bypass Nigeria's principal telecoms operator Nitel which runs the SAT-3 branch cable which lands in Nigeria.

The SAT-3 consortium diverted a ship from Cape Town in South Africa to repair the fault.

It arrived in Cotonou in Benin late Saturday evening and carried out repairs on Sunday morning.

The cause of the fault has not been revealed.

SAT-3 is currently the only fibre optic cable serving West Africa.

The 15,000km (9,300mile) SAT-3 cable lands in eight West African countries as it winds its way between Europe and South Africa.

Two new cables are planned for the area. The Main One cable is expected to be completed in 2010 whilst the West Africa Cable System (WACS) is due in 2011.

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