300 million Africans affected by internet shutdowns in 2022
Three hundred million Africans were impacted by internet shutdowns in 2022 alone.
This is according to a report by cybersecurity company Surfshark which also showed that Africa is just behind Asia as among the most vigorous in terms of online censorship, with 13 incidents recorded last year.
Sudan features at the top of the list based on disruption count (4), followed by Burkina Faso (3), Zimbabwe (3), Sierra Leone (2) and Somalia (1).
According to the report, Burkina Faso has endured the longest lasting internet restriction – from January 2022 to date. Russia and Azerbaijan are second and third positioned.
Globally, the report said 4.2 billion people were affected by mass internet censorship in 2022.
Spokesperson for the company Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, said, “More than half of the world’s population was affected by internet censorship last year. Many of these cases involved full internet disruptions on local or national level. These can be devastating and extremely dangerous, especially during war times, protests or violent government repressions. Internet restrictions can make it difficult or even impossible to mobilise people for the defence of democracy, contact loved ones, access news sites and spread information to the outside world on what’s happening.”
Alp Toker, director of global internet watchdog NetBlocks added, “Through the past year, we have seen how governments have used internet shutdowns and telecommunications blackouts as a tool for repression and control, silencing journalism, civil society and the general public. Internet connectivity today underpins all human rights, which is why it’s more critical than ever to document mass- censorship incidents and find ways to get people reconnected.”
Amos Kalunga, a telecommunications industry analyst at Computer Society of Zambia said, “Internet disruptions and shutdowns in Africa, including here in Zambia, usually take place during election time and when there is a looming civil disobedience so that those in authority can manipulate election results and suppress dissent and freedom of expression, especially because many Africans now rely on internet for communication."