south africa's ports are struggling to recover

South Africa’s ports are struggling to recover after being paralyzed by a cyber-attack

Transnet, South Africa’s state-owned logistics company, said on Tuesday that it was trying to restore systems following a severe cyber-attack on the country’s key port terminals last week.

The security breach occurred on July 22 but has continued since then, requiring Transnet to revert to manual systems, according to the company. The company declared a force majeure — a condition that forbids a party from executing a contract due to external and unanticipated circumstances — in a letter to its clients dated Monday.

It said it had been the victim of a “cyber-attack, security intrusion, and sabotage” that had “disrupted routine procedures and functions.”

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As a result, operations in the ports of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Ngqura, and Durban, the busiest in Sub-Saharan Africa, have been severely interrupted. The company stated in a statement later Tuesday that the force majeure would be lifted “soon” after “substantial progress in restoring” its systems.

“Over the next few days, it is predicted that some programs will continue to run slowly,” it warned.

The full impact of this disruption, which occurred at the height of the citrus export season, is unknown, but it is certain to be devastating for the South African economy, which is still reeling from rioting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, as well as a year and a half of Covid-19 restraints.