Africa bears the brunt of internet shutdowns
A new report by cybersecurity company Surfshark and internet watchdog Netblocks says over the past seven years, Africa has been one of the most affected by internet censorship by the proportion of the population.
According to the report, eight out of ten Africans have been affected by internet and social media shutdowns.
Additionally, of the 72 internet disruption case in 2022, social media platforms were targeted twice in Africa and Europe, and once in Asia and South America.
In total, Africa has had 88 internet restriction cases since 2015 and these were linked primarily to civil unrest and protests.
In the first half of 2022, Surfshark registered 66 internet blackouts in six countries and territories including Burkina Faso and Sudan which both experienced nationwide outages.
Agneska Sablovskaja, lead research at Surfshark said, “We see a positive trend of internet restriction cases going down this half of the year. Nevertheless, the number of countries that use internet disruptions as a weapon to silence citizens’ unarrest remains worryingly high. Most cases are of national and local magnitude where the internet is slowed or completely shut down leaving its people without most of their communication means.”
Alp Toker, founder and CEO of Netblocks said, “The slight decrees in observed nation-scale internet shutdowns in early 2022 follows a period of unprecedented reliance on the internet during the pandemic. Yet, this is no reprieve-around the world the overall decline in freedoms continues. This is why it is essential to monitor human rights and democracy in the digital sphere.”
Netblocks also said Sierra Leone and Somaliland recently experienced significant internet disruptions with both incidences happening during protests.
Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn campaign manager at Access Now said, “Shutting down the internet in times of instability and unrest fuels crisis and conceals human rights violations against people. Whenever the internet is shut down during high tension moments, lives are endangered.”