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Internet shutdowns: Ethiopian businesses lose US$146-million

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Africa , Ethiopia , 21 Feb 2023

A new report says Ethiopian businesses have lost about US$146-million due to the internet shutdown in the Tigray region last year that affected over one million internet users.

The report by Top10VPN, a VPN service provider, said there was no internet connection for a total of 8 760 hours in 2022. In addition to crippling digital payments and businesses, it also hampered efforts by human rights groups to use social media to document crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in the region.

The report said that the main reason behind the shutdown was to stifle conflicts and protests, and is one of the longest that the organisation has ever documented.

Samuel Woodhams, digital rights researcher at Top10VPN, said repeated internet shutdowns are not good for Ethiopia, and slowly this was being realised.

He said: “By emphasising the economic impact, the Ethiopian government will recognise how internet shutdowns harm the economy.”

Other African countries also suffered losses as a result of national internet shutdowns last year, said the report. Nigeria lost US$82.7-million following 287 hours of internet shutdown, which affected 104 million users. Sudan lost US$17.8-million due to the government’s continued shutdowns to crack down on pro-democracy protesters demanding a return to civilian rule, as well as 11 times the government deliberately disrupted internet to prevent cheating in exams. In Burkina Faso, US$12.6-million was lost following the government’s internet shutdown for 380 hours, following a failed military takeover.

“Governments, ISPs and tech companies need to be more transparent about their role in disrupting access to the internet,” said Woodhams.

“We also need to work collectively to ensure people experiencing the shutdowns have the support, tools and skills necessary to circumvent them,” he concluded. 

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