Cutting the Internet has become a common practice of some African leaders who drag on to power. They want to restrict the freedom of expression of people and opponents during an election or political crisis.
One of the examples comes from Cameroon where the English-speaking regions with the separatist tendencies were blocked the Internet from February to April this year following the demonstrations of the pro-independentist. Separatist breezes were blocked the Internet from February to April this year following the pro-independence demonstrations.
During this period, some businessmen using the Internet for their activities were forced to leave these areas to continue working.
“This is a testing ground for authoritarian practices, especially in the digital space. We say this because we have witnessed what is happening in terms of Internet connectivity in West and Central Africa since 2009, “says Julie Owono, Africa’s head of Internet Without Borders.
For “Internet without borders, restricting access to the Internet is a violation of international law and the United Nations resolution of July 2016 which states that” the rights that people have offline must also be protected online ” .
Togo that cut the Internet with the current wave of protests loses $ 300,000 per day, according to Access Now estimates. A blow to a country where GDP per capita is only $ 578.
In Cameroon, figures on the impact of three months of Internet cutback on the economy have remained unknown, but business owners have been hard hit.
“The case of Cameroon is particularly worrying because I said that the closure of two specific regions took place and that one of them housed what we call the silicon mountain of the city of Buea which hosts a number start-ups and entrepreneurs who rely on the Internet to create value. ”
Africa is not alone. According to an annual report from Freedom House, last year, Internet freedom worldwide declined for the sixth consecutive year. Social media was the main target.
While countries in the Middle East and China are using firewalls and blocking virtual private networks to control access to the Web, African leaders increasingly prefer a more brutal instrument: the cut.