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Ethiopia tops Sub-Saharan Africa in economic losses from internet shutdowns: new study

New research from the Center for Rights and Democracy (CARD) reveals that Ethiopia lost a staggering $1.59 billion due to an internet shutdown in 2023 (Photo: Social Media)

Addis Abeba – New research from the Center for Rights and Democracy (CARD), a local nonprofit organization, reveals that Ethiopia experienced the most severe internet shutdown in Sub-Saharan Africa last year.

Funded by Access Now, a nonprofit organization focused on digital civil rights, the research, titled “Equity of Access to the Internet in Ethiopia,” indicates that Ethiopia lost a staggering $1.59 billion due to an internet shutdown in 2023 that lasted 14,910 hours, impacting 29 million internet users.

In January 2024, Addis Standard published an article citing a report by the international VPN review website Top10VPN.

The report indicated that Ethiopia experienced the second highest economic losses globally in 2023 due to government-imposed internet shutdowns and social media blocks.

The estimated financial impact on Ethiopia for that year amounted to approximately $1.9 billion.

According to CARD, internet shutdowns are not a new phenomenon in Ethiopia and have become the norm in the context of conflict and instability.

Citing data from Access Now, CARD highlighted at least 26 incidents of shutdowns in response to conflict, communal violence, and political turmoil since 2016.

In 2023 alone, the internet was shut down in Ethiopia on at least three occasions.

The longest internet shutdown and telecommunications blackout occurred in Tigray, lasting over two years (2020–2022) amid a war between the federal government and Tigray forces.

Although the war in Tigray ended with the signing of the Pretoria Peace Agreement in November 2022, another shutdown followed in the Amhara region due to ongoing conflict between the government and the non-state Fano militia.

CARD noted that Tigray and Amhara are not the only regions affected by these shutdowns. 

The organization stated, “The government has sporadically restricted connectivity in other parts of the country, limiting citizens’ rights and opportunities.” AS

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