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Safaricom outage sparks conspiracy theories

Kenya , 25 Apr 2017

Safaricom outage sparks conspiracy theories

The Communication Authority of Kenya is readying a new law that will compel telecom companies to submit a network redundancy and resilience report on a quarterly basis to the Authority. This, together with conspiracy theories related to digital communication and the election posted on social media, have emerged after Safaricom's nationwide outage yesterday.

The outage impacted all of the telco's services and was said to be caused by faults on their core network as well as the redundancy options. However, by 4.30pm the company announced that it had restored all services.

Francis Wangusi, Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya, reiterated the regulator's position. "Network operators and service providers will be required, on a quarterly basis, to submit compliance reports to enable the Authority (to) determine achievement of the network redundancy, resilience and diversity metrics."

"At the onset, the Authority will observe and analyse these returns for a period of three (3) years. The Authority will then initiate further consultations with the stakeholders to establish compliance thresholds."

Local media have reported that Safaricom will have to present itself before the CA to explain the cause of Monday's network blackout.

Meanwhile, the outage sparked conspiracy theories expressed on Twitter over what this could mean for the upcoming election.

Advocate Apollo Mboya through his twitter account said: "The Safaricom network outage was a dry run on how the network will be incapacitated on the Election Day."

These sentiments were not lost on Dennis Owino an investigative analyst at Kenya Insights.

"It gave a glimpse of what would happen should Safaricom shut down its system during elections. There has been a debate for a manual backup for the digitised election, a preposition that is largely seen by opposition as a rigging strategy," Owino told ITWeb Africa.

The 2013 general elections were mired in controversy over the communication of results by Safaricom and delays believed to have been experienced during the process – something the telco has distanced itself from, blaming untrained election clerks and other technologies used in the transmission.

In a tweet telecommunications analyst Tom Makau said. "The Safaricom Network outage was proof that networks can fail. Only 4 percent of GSM networks in the world have never experienced any outage."

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