Ethiopia lost $146 million in 2022 due to internet outages

Internet shutdowns have crippled online business in Tigray
Image: Radu Sigheti (Reuters)

The war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has not only caused loss of life and mass displacement, but also caused businesses to lose millions of dollars in lost revenue due to an entire year of internet shutdowns.

Although electricity is restored After a truce was signed in Mekelle, Tigray’s capital, between the government and Tigray fighters to end the two-year war last november, since the start of the war in november 2020, the internet outage is still ongoing.

New report According to Top10VPN, a London-based VPN research firm that assesses internet privacy, security and freedom, Ethiopian businesses lost $145.8 million due to internet outages in Tigray last year. It affected more than 1 million internet users.

In 2020, the country lost 100 million dollars internet outages rising to $164.5 million It covers 21.3 million users in 2021.

In 2022, there was a total of 8,760 hours (365 days) without internet connectivity, slowing down digital payment systems, businesses and human rights groups’ efforts to document crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing using social media. 5 million people before the war.

The report notes that the internet shutdown in the Tigray region is “the longest we have ever documented. As in other parts of the world, the main reason authorities shut down is to stifle the free flow of information during elections, conflicts or protests. “Internet shutdowns are primarily a control method, but that doesn’t mean they’re always successful.”

Samuel Woodhams, a digital rights researcher at Top10VPN, tells Quartz that the repeated shutdown is not good for Ethiopia and “could have long-term consequences with reduced foreign investor confidence and reduced domestic technology-driven growth.”

It is still unclear when internet services will be restored in Tigray. “There is no timeline,” said Belete Molla, Ethiopia’s minister of innovation and technology. told the representatives During the annual UN Internet Governance Forum in Addis Ababa on November 30.

By highlighting the economic impact, Woodhams says, the Ethiopian government will understand how internet shutdowns are hurting the country.

“Governments, ISPs and tech companies need to be more transparent about their roles in disrupting internet access. We must also work collectively to ensure that people facing closures have the support, tools and skills they need to get around them.”

Internet outages have also caused economic losses in other African countries

Other African countries have also lost millions of dollars in economic value due to restricted internet access, with Nigeria losing $82.7 million in 2022 after a 287-hour social media shutdown, according to the survey. It affected 104 million users. In 2021, Nigeria lost $1.45 billion When you ban access to Twitter.

Sudan, where the government continues to use internet shutdowns to quell pro-democracy protests and prevent exam cheating after a military coup last October, lost $17.8 million last year. “Internet access was cut off twice in early January and again in June as protests were suppressed and protesters were killed. Internet access in Sudan was also deliberately cut off 11 times by the government in June to prevent cheating in exams,” the study said.

After a failed military coup, a period of unrest and the army’s declaration of full control of Burkina Faso last year, the government shut down the Internet for a total of 380 hours, resulting in an economic loss of $12.6 million. About 4 million people could not use online services.

Last year, on June 13, during the exams in Algeria, access to Facebook was restricted for 20 hours and the internet was partially cut for 4 hours, causing a loss of 8 million dollars. More than 25 million people were affected.

“In two incidents in the weeks before crucial early parliamentary elections, authorities in Zimbabwe throttled internet speeds and cut off internet access during opposition party rallies,” the report said. In 2022, more than 5 million users suffered a loss of 1.6 million dollars.

The price of mobile internet reduces Many African countries have the continent’s internet speed still below is the global average, leaving it miles behind the rest of the world in moving towards a digital economy.

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