Ethiopia holds record for world’s longest internet shutdown, report

A report published by Access Now, a New York-based advocacy group has revealed that the ongoing internet shutdown in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is the “world’s longest currently active shutdown currently.”

The report shows that 187 shutdowns took place globally in 2022, with India leading by 84 shutdowns overall.

Ethiopia holds the record for the country with the longest internet shutdown, particularly affecting the Tigray region. The population had endured more than 787 days of internet disconnections, while many areas still remain disconnected.

“By the end of 2022, people in Tigray, Ethiopia had endured 2+ years of full communications blackout, and many remain disconnected.”

The report is part of a campaign dubbed #keepiton, initiated by more than 300 organizations from 105 countries, making attempts to campaign against internet shutdowns.

“2022 was also the year with the highest total number of shutdowns in the rest of the world to date,” says the surveyors who have been tracking internet shutdowns since 2016.

Among the triggers of the shutdown, mostly initiated by governments, are protests active conflict, examinations, elections, political instability, and other high-profile national events.

Kenya has been hailed for conducting the 2022 general elections without shutting down the internet.

The report says: “Kenya, meanwhile, made and kept its commitment to #KeepItOn during the August 2022 general election, standing out as a leader among its neighbors in East Africa. That includes Uganda, which had blocked Facebook ahead of the January 2021 general elections and to date has not lifted the block..”

Access now says that it hosted trainings for journalists, human rights defenders, and election observers, and maintained steady pressure on the Kenyan government and telecom executives to #KeepItOn throughout the 2022 general election period.

The fundamental role that the internet plays in modern life is underlined by the report’s observation, hence concluding:

“Internet shutdowns, of any form, always violate fundamental human rights and cause incalculable and persistent damage to people’s lives.”

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Simon W Nderitu

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