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Internet is down in Sudan as coup attempt unfolds

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Sudan , 25 Oct 2021

The internet has been shut down in Sudan amid an unfolding coup situation in the African country, with NetBlocks confirming that connectivity via mobile phones and fixed platforms has been disrupted.

There have been protests in the past few weeks as civilians demanded the government to resign.

Sudan has been fragile, witnessing a 2019 coup that ousted former President Omar al-Bashir and as recently as September there was another coup attempt to topple the current transitional government.

Now, the military has reportedly stepped in following weeks of civilian protests, with the Sudanese Information Ministry confirming that several transitional council leaders, including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, had been arrested early Monday.

NetBlocks, which monitors disruptions to internet and telecom services globally, has confirmed that internet connectivity is down in Sudan in the aftermath of the fresh coup developments.

“Network data from NetBlocks confirm a significant disruption to internet service in Sudan from the morning of Monday 25 October 2021 affecting cellular and some fixed-line connectivity on multiple providers,” NetBlocks said in a statement posted on its website.

It added that the “incident is ongoing as of 6 am” and came “amid reports that senior government officials have been detained in an apparent military coup” attempt.

According to Datareportal, there are 13.7 million internet users in Sudan as of January 2021, leading to an internet penetration rate of 30.9%. It adds that the country has 33.7 million mobile connections, with its mobile penetration rate standing at 76%.

Other witnesses and telecommunication service monitors in Sudan told ITWeb Africa that local calls were also disrupted although international calls were still open.

However, targeted internet disruptions, including shutdowns and social media restrictions, have characterised the “political turmoil in Sudan since the onset of protests in 2018 that led to the transition” to civilian rule.

Sudan cut social media for 68 consecutive days to quell protests, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp restricted from 21 December 2018 up until February 26 2019.

Between June and July 2019, the African country also suffered “a more extensive mobile internet shutdown” for an additional 36 days.

Internet blockades have become common in Africa during protests, elections and coup de tats. Last week, Eswatini directed mobile companies to cut access to Facebook and Facebook Messenger as anti-government protests raged.

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