Internet shutdowns have adverse effects on free speech, expression, ability to assemble and associate. (Digital Empowerment Foundation).
ksGEN is keen on parking in-depth and productive conversations about the rise of internet shutdowns on the continent.
There has been a dramatic increase in internet shutdowns in Africa. In 2016, the number of shutdowns doubled from the previous year, affecting citizens in 11 countries on the continent. And while the number of shutdowns declined slightly in 2017, governments that resorted to disrupting the internet did so more frequently and for longer periods of time. From anti-government protests to Cameroon, to exam cheating in Ethiopia, concerns of election related violence in Uganda, and quelling social unrest in Zimbabwe, the justifications are diverse.
There is a pressing need for more in-depth research into the whys and hows governments are choosing to curtail internet access. In particular more research is urgently needed to answer questions around motivations, the legal and political processes that enable internet shutdowns to take place, the technological developments enhancing the ability and willingness for actors to resort to such measures, and the role that international and non-state actors like technology companies, ISPs, and governments are playing in this process.
Internet shutdowns are a fundamental risk, not just to freedom of expression, national or personal security or business operations, but also to the most fundamental of sustainable development challenges faced by all states. (Institute for Human Rights and Business).