Communications blackout: Sudani network restored

Person uses a smartphone (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Sudani communications provider announced the gradual restoration of telecommunication and internet networks “to all cities of Sudan without exception” yesterday. The Sudatel terrestrial fibre optic network was also reportedly restored in large parts of the country. 

Sources of Radio Dabanga confirmed that Sudani networks were back up and running in many parts of the country. They celebrated the return of the network which is the main operator of the Sudatel group.  

The sources said they had been unable to communicate with their relatives inside and outside the country for over a week. They confirmed that Sudani network is back in many places, including Port Sudan, Kassala, El Gedaref, Halfa, and Kosti. 

Until Sunday, the entire country was cut off, except for landlines provided by Canar Telecom and Sudani. Sudani and MTN services went down on February 2, Zain was disconnected on Wednesday. Zain and MTN telecommunication and internet networks are still down. 

The passport department in Port Sudan reportedly resumed issuing passports after internet access via Sudatel land lines was restored on Sunday. Many banks were also able to restart operations, and people are now able to access online banking services Bankak and Fawry. 

UN condemnation 

Local, international, and UN bodies have condemned the internet shutdown. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said the disruption of communications in Sudan prevents people from accessing basic services and transferring funds.  

It also hinders the humanitarian response, he said, calling for “all those involved to restore the communication network across Sudan immediately.” 

On January 4, Griffiths made a statement demanding swift action to end the conflict. “Across Sudan, nearly 25 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2024. But the bleak reality is that intensifying hostilities are putting most of them beyond our reach,” he said. 

Communications and internet networks in large parts of Darfur have been cut off for months by the ongoing war, and parts of Kordofan, especially southern and western Kordofan, have been cut off for weeks. The outages have forced the people there to use the US Starlink satellite communication network, with Nyala, capital of South Darfur, as the hub

Accusations 

Last week, members of the ousted Al Bashir regime, Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were separately accused of being behind the blackout. 

The Sudanese Telecommunications and Postal Regulatory Authority accused the RSF of cutting off telecommunications networks on February 5. The RSF denied the claim, accusing the telecommunications authority of being affiliated with the SAF. 

In a statement on Thursday, a government spokesperson said that works were underway to “reroute the network feeding system across Sudan through the sea” to avoid similar outages in the future. However, telecommunications specialist Ammar Hamouda told Radio Dabanga that submarine cables “have no link to telecommunications within Sudan.”