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Lessons from Ghana’s Internet Downtime

Ghana's recent experience with internet service disruption due to undersea cable cuts serves as a stark reminder of the importance of preparedness and mitigation strategies for businesses and individuals. In this article, we explore the lessons learned from this downtime and discuss practical steps to mitigate such disruptions in the future and ensure business continuity.  

Understanding the Impact of Internet Downtime 

Internet downtime has far-reaching effects on various sectors, including businesses, education, healthcare, and daily life. During these periods, accessing critical data becomes challenging, leading to disruptions in operations and services. One of the key lessons learned from Ghana's recent internet downtime is the country's heavy reliance on international undersea cables for internet connectivity. When these cables are damaged, international internet connections suffer, highlighting the need for more resilient and diversified connectivity solutions. 

Mitigation Strategies for Businesses 

  1. Diversify Internet Providers
One effective strategy for businesses is to diversify their internet providers. By having multiple providers, businesses can reduce their reliance on a single provider and mitigate the impact of cable cuts or other disruptions. Providers like SmartInfraco, which has a direct connection to the Ghana Internet Exchange (GIX), offer local traffic exchange services that can significantly reduce dependency on international links. 
  1. Utilize VPN Services for Local Access
Another critical strategy is the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to secure local access to data. VPNs create secure tunnels for data transmission, allowing employees to access data from private servers even during internet downtime. By encrypting data and routing it through the local network, VPNs ensure uninterrupted access to critical applications, platforms, and files. 
  1. Host Data Locally
Hosting data locally can also help mitigate the impact of internet downtime. Local data hosting (either on a local cloud or a physical data center) reduces latency, ensuring faster access to data. It also leads to cost savings by reducing the need for international data transfers. Additionally, hosting data locally ensures data sovereignty, allowing businesses to comply with local regulations and retain control over their data. 

Moving Forward: Best Practices

Redundancy and Failover
Implementing redundancy and failover systems is crucial for maintaining connectivity during internet downtime. Businesses should have backup connections, such as satellite or microwave, to switch to during fibre cuts. Automatic failover systems can also help seamlessly switch between connections, ensuring uninterrupted access to data and services. 
Cloud Services and Edge Computing 
Leveraging cloud services with local data centers and implementing edge computing can also enhance resilience to internet downtime. Most cloud services remain accessible even during cable outages, while edge computing distributes computing resources closer to users. 

Conclusion 

The recent internet downtime in Ghana and across several countries in West Africa serves as a wake-up call for businesses to prioritize resilience and preparedness in the face of potential disruptions to ensure business continuity. By diversifying internet providers, utilizing VPN services for local access, hosting data locally, implementing redundancy and failover systems, leveraging cloud services and edge computing, and collaborating with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), businesses can mitigate the impact of internet downtime and ensure uninterrupted access to critical resources. Through these measures, Ghana can build a more resilient digital ecosystem for the future, ensuring that when the cables go dark, local connections keep us illuminated.   

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