Over the last two years, the Internet has been cruel on the African continent, according to Robert Besseling, analyst at the risk assessment firm EXX Africa, and the situation may deteriorate. In the last four weeks alone, no fewer than five African governments have temporarily stopped access to the Internet because of political crises and unrest.
Although this practice began for several years, he says it has accelerated and hit countries that rely on the Internet to spread information and internet marketing, such as Zimbabwe.
“2018 In 2007, we counted 21 breaks across Africa, and this year in the first three weeks of 2019, we saw the closure in five countries: again, in Cameroon, as well as most prominently in Zimbabwe, as well as during the elections. Democratic Republic of Congo and the unrest in Sudan, as well as shortly following the coup in Gabon, ”Besseling said.
These five countries have one thing in common: the recent political unrest. The Congolese closure took place in chaotic, controversial, long delayed elections and its controversial consequences. In Zimbabwe, the rise in fuel prices led to violent protests, leading to even more violence against security officials, followed by a break in the Internet.
Congolese law activist Sylvain Saluseke, who lives in a self-sufficient exile outside the country, says that his compatriots in the Democracy Youth Group, LUCHA, fought under a deadlock because they tried to fulfill their mission to identify 30 December polls and documented consequences.
"It was a big obstacle," he said. "Of course, after that, there have always been questions about how much less we can pass on information or exchange information, and this in itself posed a risk if and when someone is arrested, or someone gets into dangerous situations or risky situations."
The halting of the interruption of information is the point of these Internet connections, says Edgar Munatsi of the Zimbabwean Association of Human Rights Doctors. Other groups of law have claimed the same, saying that it was a tactic to cover the unexpected human rights violations that occurred in Zimbabwe and that could still happen.
"Regardless of how people stopped organizing themselves, there was a need to balance media and international opinion about what happened at night and sometimes during the day," Munatsi told reporters. The atrocities were committed during the night and at the closing of the Internet. If you understand, most civil society leaders and activists in Zimbabwe have been kidnapped overnight, and no one knows where they are, some of them. "
Besseling, who appreciates the continent from the point of view of business, points out that it is easier for African countries to shut down or slow down Internet services because many African telecommunications companies are under state control.
He says the closing costs are high.
“If you close the Internet in the geography of an economically important country, you can of course appreciate much higher costs. For example, in a country like Kenya, the cost would be $ 6.3 million a day if the Internet were closed across the country. ”
He said these losses were due to the cessation of information networks, such as the availability of stock and commodity price indices on the Internet, as well as the inaccessibility of e-commerce and electronic banking.
He said there were other losses that could not be easily quantified, such as obtaining reliable information about what was going on around you, or perhaps the hardest, losing contact with loved ones during the crisis.