Togo’s high speed internet disappoints

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Lomé, Togo  

It was meant to propel Togo to the pedestal of so-called modern and digital nations by providing this impoverished West African nation of six million people with one of the fastest broadband internet connections in the world – as the authorities put it.

But the US$650 million telecom station where the WACS undersea cable landed, inaugurated with pomp and pride on 22 May 2012 in Afidegnigban by the head of state, Faure Gnassingbé, and illustrious figures of state-controlled Togo Telecom, has instead thrown the country’s internet connection into disarray and killed the big dreams of some 400 000 internet users.

Togo’s internet connection could be one of the most unstable and inconsistent on the continent, according to concerned IT students and educators.

“Twice I spent three hours last week trying to connect to the internet during one of my teaching sessions, but to no avail,” IT teacher Noel Francis Kpatinde told Biztechafrica.

“It’s on and off all day, and I believe the country is in crisis,” Kpatindé added.

“The state of ICT sector in Togo? Forget it… This is what happens when there is no investment in the sector of telecoms," technology expert and businessman Ayim Kibama Amilo said.

“There is a serious lack of infrastructures in this country, and if we had any we wouldn’t be talking about this issue right now.”

All over Lomé, the capital city, walls of shops where internet cafés used to operate still bear the sign Internet Haut Debit – a French slight translation of high speed internet.

“This is what we were made to believe, and we rushed into investing our hard-earned cash, and now it’s history," said former internet café owner Prudence Akouwa Akpovi.

“I used to fight with customers over the slow connection,” he recounted. “They would leave with anger and frustration thinking that they would find something better somewhere, but they came quickly to apologise.”

“We were told that our connection is not directly provided by us, apparently it comes from France, then Ivory Coast and Ghana and here. If this is the case, what is the use of lying that the submarine that landed in Afidegnigban will end all our internet problems and make Togo a digital and modern nation?” asked university student  Michel Ayite.

The country internet crisis has left millions in the dark and embarrassed main internet provider Togo Telecom, which has been scrambling for answers without providing real ones.

Togo Telecom, which has been profusely apologising to its customers since 2011, said at the time that the problem was out of its hands, and blamed cable failures and technical problems in neighbouring countries such as Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger.


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