Mobile internet partially restored in Ethiopia after 2 month shutdown

  • December 5, 2016

Mobile Internet services are finally restored in Ethiopia after the service was blocked over two months. The blockage was connected with anti-government protests that broke out largely in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

Currently, Ethiopia is facing an emergency with some  rules being imposed on the access to particular social media platforms. Anti-government protests in the country are believed to have triggered off largely due to the social media. Social media and messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook, and Instagram have been blocked. The main internet lines were also said to be very slow during the period of shutdown.

It is said that this is the longest sustained mobile internet service shutdown that has taken place in the capital Addis Ababa and across the country.

A recent report on access to the internet ranked Ethiopia amongst the worst in the world. In Africa they were ranked along with Gambia, Sudan & Egypt as the worst culprits.

According to the research on the use of the internet, online freedom generally around the world has declined for the sixth consecutive year.

All four African countries considered ‘Not Free’ had internet penetration of between 12 and 36%. Only Sudan did not block social media and other political and social content. But all the others did that and also conducted arrests of bloggers and internet users.

In all, 16 African countries were surveyed by the Freedom House team. The regional spread are as follows:

  • Five in North Africa – Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco
  • Two in West Africa – The Gambia and Nigeria
  • Four in East Africa – Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda
  • Five in Southern Africa – South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi.

The report titled ‘Freedom on the Net 2016 – Silencing the Messenger, Communication Apps Under Pressure’ added that two out of every three internet users – 67% – live in countries where online activities are largely censored.

The research was carried out by Freedom House, ‘‘an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world.’‘ It looked at 65 countries across the world and how they related to the use of the internet.

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