In 2017: there was a 93-day, complete internet shutdown that lasted from January to April in Cameron. Altogether, the regions have had intermittent or no internet access for more than 150 days in 2017, so far.
The January to April blackout took a heavy toll on the country’s budding technology center, located in the Southwest region and popularly known as Silicon Mountain. Entrepreneurs and businessmen were left scrambling, losing clients and working hours, and were forced to move to cities and towns with internet services. The digital rights advocacy Access Now says the current shutdown cost the two regions almost $2.5 million.
However, internet and social media shutdowns are not just a Cameroonian problem—it’s an African problem. In 2016 alone, 11 countries disrupted internet communications before crucial electionsin Uganda, during national exams in Algeria, and anti-government protests in Ethiopia. The blackouts also cost African governments hundreds of millions of dollars, disrupting the delivery of critical services and undermining economic growth. Policy proposals to punish governments have often failed, leaving the continent’s thinkers and businesspeople worried about the future repercussions.
The Internet Shutdown In Ethiopia Costs The Country Approximately $500,000
A recent report released on 27 October 2016 by the Global Network Initiativealong with Deloitte suggests that the current ongoing Internet shutdown in Ethiopia is costing the country approximately $500,000 a day.
The report explains that, in dollar terms, it is estimated that for the average highly-connected country, the per-day impact of a complete Internet shutdown would amount to US$23.6 million per 10 million people. For the average country with medium and low levels of connectivity, the estimated GDP impact amounts to US$6.6 million and US$0.6 million per 10 million people, respectively.
“This analysis suggests that the ongoing Internet shutdown in Ethiopia, a low-connectivity country with a population of 94 million and a per capita GDP of US$505, is costing its economy just under half-a-million US dollars a day in lost GDP.”
Shutdowns between January 2016 and May 2018. That’s a huge distance ahead of second-placed Pakistan’s 19 shutdown’s and 8 in both Iraq and Syria.
In many countries, internet shutdowns are preemptive or reactive measures to mass or potential public unrest, with Turkey’s 2016 failed military coup an obvious recent example. This is also true to some extent in India where internet access is cut off due to political turmoil, protests or military operations. India is even known to carry out shutdowns in certain regions to prevent cheating during examinations. For example, Darjeeling in West Bengal suffered a 45-day internet shutdown due to political demonstrations and protests from activists seeking a separate state while Nawada in Bihar had a 40-day shutdown as a result of communal clashes.
Given the importance of the internet, moves to block it or limit access can prove costly. In India, the sheer volume of shutdowns, coupled with their length, are getting expensive – very expensive. According to a report by The Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), 16,315 hours of intentional internet downtime between 2012 and 2017 cost the Indian economy a whopping $3.04 billion.
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