13 August 2014

Repair work on the West Africa Cable System (WACS) off Namibia’s coast is scheduled to start over the weekend.

A cable fault, affecting all traffic transiting via the Swakopmund WACS Cable Station, was detected on the WACS during the morning of 29 May 2014. Traffic was restored with an interim solution until the fault is localised and the cable system can be repaired.

Telecom Namibia in coordination with the WACS Consortium are preparing for the cable repair activity both on land (Swakopmund beach area) and at sea, starting on 16 August 2014. The repair work is expected to be completed by 23 August 2014, depending on various factors including, but not limited to, weather conditions, the outcome of the preliminary onsite inspection and deployment of the repair vessel.

The cable repair procedure normally consists of the followings:
1. Localisation of the cable failure point
2. Recovery of the failure cable onto the vessel
3. Cutting and removal of the cable failure section
4. Jointing of the recovered cable and the spare cable in the cable tank of the vessel
5. Confirmation test and reburial of the cable

The repair activities for such a shallow water cable will require large industrial equipment to be deployed on the Swakopmund beach, while the large cable repair vessel will again operate very close to shore (about 1.5 km) to attend to the laying and jointing at the shore-end of the cable. The beach area will be closed for the duration of the repair activities.

The WACS is transporting the majority of Internet traffic for Namibia, Botswana and Zambia and is considered of national importance. During the repair work, Telecom Namibia will reroute Internet traffic through other undersea cable systems to mitigate the impacts on customers.

The WACS is a 14,530-kilometer long submarine communications cable system, connecting South Africa to Europe via West African countries including Namibia and was officially put into operation on 26 June 2012. The total cost for the cable system was US$650 million.