Gabon hit by internet disruptions

By Issa Sikiti da Silva

Internet connections are back in Gabon after three days of black out - a mystery telecommunication authorities and operators seem unable to explain.

Internet subscribers in this oil-rich Central African nation have been going through hard time in the past two months, as the latest disruption occurred late last week, on Friday and Saturday, and in some parts extended to Sunday 5 April.

“Life and business came to a standstill and I strongly believe that it’s not over yet,” internet café manager Claude Libama said on Monday in the capital Libreville.

While it was business as usual in the Airtel camp, Gabon Telecom users were frustrated to the bone, swiftly blaming SYNATEL, the country’s telecommunication union, for calling a month-long strike that seems to be forcing the company to keep its head above the water.

Another internet disruption was noted in late February as a result of the strike. And when international calls would not go through on March 9, Gabon Telecom said it was a victim of sabotage.

“I couldn’t buy EDAN electricity units because we were told that the system was offline. I couldn’t wait long in the queue because it was unbearable,” Alida Nzinga said in the capital Libreville.

“Unless, the two parties get rid of their arrogance and reach a win-win agreement, we must expect more trouble ahead,” Nzinga added.

Gabon is connected to the fibre optic submarine cable Sat 3 since 2003 and to ACE since early 2012, but it is still struggling to offer a stable and reliable internet connection to its people.

Due the lack of official communication from the Maroc Telecom-owned company, speculation is rife in office corridors and street corners that the latest disruption was caused by sabotage.

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