It was supposed to thrust Togo into the forefront of modern society making it a contemporary digital nation, but the high speed internet has been far from quick.
The impoverished West African nation of six million people has hypothetically one of the fastest broadband internet connections in the world – though people of Togo are far from impressed.
The US$650 million telecom station where the WACS undersea cable landed, inaugurated with pomp and pride on last May in Afidegnigban by the head of state, Faure Gnassingbé, and illustrious figures of state-controlled Togo Telecom. However, since it’s launch it has instead thrown the country’s Internet connection into disarray, crushing the big dreams of some 400 000 users.
It has now reached the point where concerened IT students and educators are calling it one of the most unstable and inconsistent connections in Africa.
“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 said.
“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 are still haunted by 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 countries ever increasing Internet crisis has left millions in the dark, stretching further than just the education sector. This problem is causing major disruptions for online businesses too, and other businesses that require the connection to survive as they are unable to operate.
Since all of these problems have began coming to light Togo Telecom, has profusely apologised saying that the problem was out of its hands. The company went on to blame cable failures and technical problems in neighbouring countries such as Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger for the rolling black outs and drop offs.