Internet shutdown has continued in Ethiopia

June 29, 2019

NetBlocks, NGO monitoring internet censorship, estimates Ethiopians lose at least $4.5 million each day the internet is cut.

An internet shutdown has been in force across Ethiopia since June 22, 2019, after a group of soldiers staged a failed coup in Amhara state, the birthplace of many of Ethiopia’s emperors as well as its national language, Amharic.

The outage has frustrated citizens who rely on online services for information and for conducting business in one of sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Internet access is key to unlocking the country’s economic potential. But access to online services remains highly restricted, according to a report by independent watchdog Freedom House.

Background

Ethiopia’s current Internet penetration rate is 15.4% (roughly 16 million internet users), and it is currently attempting a broad expansion of access throughout the country. These efforts have been hampered by the largely rural makeup of the Ethiopian population and the government’s refusal to permit any privatization of the telecommunications market. The state-owned EthioTelecom is the sole Internet service provider (ISP) in the country. Ethiopian internet provider ethio telecom comes in at very high prices which makes it hard for the private users out there to purchase it.

Internet cafés are the main source of access in urban areas, and an active community of bloggers and online journalists now plays an important role in offering alternative news sources and venues for political dialogue. However, three-quarters of the country’s Internet cafés are in the capital city, Addis Ababa, and even there access is often slow and unreliable.

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