The Internet Outage in Ghana (Day 2)

The current internet outage makes it clear how this service has become a standard amenity, akin to electricity, even here in Africa.


Some years ago I worked at an internet cafe.  The situation was such that often, my colleauges and I would use the workplace to hustle for our daily bread.

So imagine you wake up in the morning, use your last money to get to the office, hoping and praying that you'll be able to make some dough, and bam, the electricity is off.  Not only that, but it's off for the entire day.  That was something we experienced semi-regularly.  I recently heard a local politician try to argue that dumsor did not began until the NDC years (i.e. the early 2010s), and I was thinking to myself that he must've not been around during the Kufuor era.

Of course, many of us continue to depend on electricty for our livlihoods.  For example, there are some welders who live nearby, and when the lights go off during these current days of dumsor, they can't work.  Likewise, there are countless companies and individuals who depend on the internet to do business.


Sites hosted by Google, such as Gmail, Google Search and this blog (via Blogger) were easily accessible during the first day of the outage, as if they were not affected, and remain so as of this writing.  My presumption would be that since the outage is the result of severed internet cables, Google must be one of the few sites out there who are rather transmitting their data over satellite.

I also noticed a scant few other websites were accessible.  I did a bit of research and found out that at least four of them shared a hosting company in common.  For business reasons, I won't reveal who that host is, but what I will say is that it's a foreign-based company.  As for the domestic hosting providers, none of the few I tried to visit are accessible.

At this point, it should be pointed out that the entire internet was available very late last night.  So what appears to be happening is basically an exascerbation of a somehwat-common issue in Ghana, which is the internet being slower during the day but much faster deep in the night.  That said, midnight this morning, even though the entire internet was accessible, for the most part the browsing was discouragingly slow.

When the outage first occurred yesterday morning, Meta services such as Facebook and Whatsapp were down.  At about 9 or 10pm, Whatsapp came back online, and I also noticed later that Facebook was working.  But currently, with it once again being in the middle of day, Facebook is for the most part inaccessible.

I just tested TikTok for the first time since the outage began, and it appears to be working perfectly.  Wikipedia was not transmitting yesterday but came back online this morning.  However as of this writing in the early afternoon of day two, for the most part it's not working.

I've also observed that Telecel (aka Vodafone) is dealing with the outage (i.e. transmitting data) better than MTN.  This isn't surprising considering that, based on my experiences, the former functions better in remote areas and under adverse circumstances.


I guess the good thing about this current situation is it reminding us that over-reliance on external services isn't a good thing.  For instance, in dealing with the matter of inconsistent electricity, many Ghanaians have resultantly purchased their own generators or power plants.  And now, it appears as if the ambition of Ghana to install its own domestic fibre optic network may once again come to the forefront.

I can't help but to feel sorry for the countless people whose jobs, big and small alike, depend heavily on the internet.  My last fulltime job for instnace, as a writer for a music blog, would have been impossible to perform under these circumstances.

But it is also this reality that has made me turn my attention back to GHexpat.  And to me, that's what it's all about when dealing with inconsistent amenities, which is ideally having alternative means to go about doing your thing.