When PowerTel’s Backbone Breaks, Zimbabwe’s Internet Grounds To A Halt

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ZOL Faulty Main Link Tweet

The PowerTel fibre internet backbone broke this morning. This backbone carries most of Zimbabwe’s traffic so when it goes down, it’s a really big deal. Service Providers are forced to reroute traffic via limited satellite capacity and this create enormous congestion for the country resulting in what may be referred to as tortoise internet.

Leading internet providers Africom, ZOL and YoAfrica communicated the outage to their clients this morning.

Africom, by SMS:

P1 Fault: Please note that our main internet platform is down due to some challenges with transmission upstream. We are on our backup link which is slower.

ZOL, through an update on their @ZOLStatus account:

ZOL Faulty Main Link Tweet

And Yo Africa, the email below:

Dear YoAfricans

The Powertel/Botswana Telecom fibre, feeding a large portion of the international and regional Internet Bandwidth into Zimbabwe, has developed a fault. This affects all Service Providers utilising this link. We do not at this time have details of the exact nature of the fault and the time to resolution.

YoAfrica has automatically switched to backup links, mainly over satellite and of a reduced capacity, this will increase latency and reduce browsing speeds.

We ask all users to be considerate during this time and refrain from bandwidth intensive activities such as peer to peer music, large downloads, streaming media etc. This will ensure fair usage for all subscribers.

We regret any inconvenience caused and assure you we are doing all we can to assist our upstream providers in coming to swift resolution.


YoAfrica Technical Team

Other notable ISPs affected by the outage include Ecoweb (yes, they also use PowerTel) and iWayAfrica (former Mweb).



  1. JamesM

    Really strategic thinking is required from all internet stakeholders to avoid having the country rely on one provider’s backbone for internet traffic. When it goes down, the country goes down with it? Not good at all!

  2. Dull Geek

    We need lasting solutions not this zvigamba apo nepapo internet connection.

    On an unrelated issue, is it true that if you do not use your gig in full, africom will forfeit it?

  3. mobiVenture

    There has been a lot of investment in metropolitan fibre links over the years. Companies forgot about the WAN backbone transmission links. There has to be fibre backbone rings around Zimbabwe so that traffic can be automatically re routed once there is a fault like in this case. I remember PowerTel in 2004 had a plan of setting up fibre backbone rings around Zimbabwe. I guess this did not materialise due to lack of funding and failure to adhere to strategic prioritisation of investments. I doubt the microwave links for Telone are still reliable leading to companies relying on satellite. This is bad for business and citizens. More investment need to go to WAN backbone transmission links and government should prioritise this.

  4. chris

    It is ‘grinds to a halt’ not ‘grounds to a halt’. Just saying. Otherwise you are very informative and are doing a great job.

  5. sir allen

    funny i am on africom and speeds ar actly faster 2day

  6. promise

    i think that ISP’s are going the right way. thay just need to go cheaper

  7. Ini Munhu

    To those in the know how, are there any plans for Zim/Moza/SEACOM link, Zim/SA via Beitbridge link? And are companies like Econet, Africom, Telco etc allowed to lay their fibre along Hre/Mutare/Moza… Hre/Masvigo(Byo)/Beitbridge routes… or only parastetals have the monopoly?

  8. Jeff

    Thanks for the informative articles and great website…I however believe this site should incorporate news/articles about electricity generation.There is no technology with power!

  9. Kabweza

    sure! we would be happy to cover that as well. in the future hey. thanks for the suggestion.

  10. The $32 million fibre project from Powertel: A sign of better service and tariffs to come? – Techzim

    […] as anything new really, considering that this fibre backbone that runs though Botswana has been around for years and at one point carried most of Zimbabwe’s traffic. Who can forget how It’s […]

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