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5 African countries pledged to uphold free internet in 2021 UN resolution, yet imposed 16 restrictions since


Five African countries Sudan, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Somalia, and Nigeria imposed restrictions despite supporting the free internet 2021 UN resolution. This is according to a new study by cybersecurity company Surfshark.

Surfshark conducted the study analyzing UN countries’ stances in the 2021 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution on the promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the internet.

Sudan has “broken its word” the most in Africa with 9 internet disruptions that took place after the country supported the 2021 resolution, the first one happening amid the 2021 military coup. Burkina Faso comes in second, with 4 restrictions since the resolution’s adoption in 2021. The country’s 2022 restriction on Facebook is still in place today.

Mauritania and Somalia both had one internet restriction since supporting the resolution. Mauritania restricted mobile internet amid a prison riot, and Somalia had an internet blackout after the parliament voted to remove the prime minister. Nigeria had one ongoing restriction at the time of the resolution’s adoption but had no new restrictions since then. The country had banned Twitter a month before the adoption, and the restriction lasted until January 2022.

“In today’s world, internet shutdowns have become a major concern. Authoritarian governments frequently employ them as a means to manipulate the public and stifle free speech. The UN resolution on human rights on the internet aims to make countries openly condemn these shutdowns and other ways of restricting online speech. However, it’s concerning that even though 5 African countries publicly supported the resolution, they still imposed internet restrictions.” Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Surfshark spokeswoman said.

”It’s important to promote an open and accessible internet and pressure countries to uphold their commitments regarding human rights online”, she added.

The report further notes that 9 countries from other continents also “broke their word”: India, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil, Armenia, Indonesia, and Ukraine.

Surfshark’s Internet Shutdown Tracker reveals that there were a total of 58 internet disruptions in these 14 countries during or after the adoption of the resolution. India stands out as the country that has “broken its word” the most, with 19 internet disruptions since the resolution’s adoption in 2021 (if we included the Jammu and Kashmir region, this number would be even higher).

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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