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Burkina Faso mobile internet disrupted as anti-government protests rage

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Burkina Faso , 22 Nov 2021

Mobile internet connectivity in the West African country of Burkina Faso has been down since Saturday as protestors call on President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré to resign over the wave of killings by militants.

The death toll from the latest attack on security forces and civilians this month has climbed to more than 50, sparking protests against the government. On Saturday, mobile internet connectivity went down as the protests raged.

NetBlocks which monitors disruptions to telecommunications connectivity said on Monday in a statement and on Twitter that “mobile internet remains disrupted in Burkina Faso as of Monday,” with surveillance data confirming that “service was cut” from 10:30 pm on Saturday night.

“Metrics corroborate user reports of mobile data disruptions on providers including Orange. The data blackout is ongoing as of Monday morning and is likely to limit the free flow of information online and suppress news coverage of events on the ground,” NetBlocks added.

However, fixed-line and Wi-Fi services “appear largely unaffected by the disruption”.

Most internet users in Burkina Faso “are reliant on mobile phones” just like most of the African continent where WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook bundles are boosting internet accessibility.

Internet access rights lobby group Access Now said the disruption to mobile internet in Burkina Faso had been effected “without explanation”.

President Kaboré said in a speech last week that it was imperative to capacitate the military to respond to terrorism and related attacks.

"We must no longer hear about food issues in our army," Reuters quoted Kaboré as saying. "We must put our men in conditions that allow them to counter terrorism with all the courage and determination it takes."

Quoting ITU data, privacy company Surfshark said on Monday that “there are 52.16 active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in Burkina Faso” whereas only 0.07 (per 100) have access to fixed broadband.

“Low broadband internet accessibility and blocked mobile connections leave people of Burkina Faso without information about events happening on the ground,” said Surfshark.

Other African countries that have recently disrupted telecommunications connectivity include eSwatini, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia.  

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