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26 January 2019 | Updated on 7 March 2019

17 JANUARY 2019

Internet shutdowns in Africa: "It's like being cut off from the world

Throughout the African continent, where many APC members and partners are based, recent weeks have seen a fresh spate of internet shutdowns that have hindered public access to information and communications. Sudan, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are three of the latest countries to experience government-led restrictions on internet access. In Zimbabwe, the most recent addition to the list, constriction gave way to a total shutdown on 14 January. 

At APC, we are very concerned about this disturbing trend, which has been growing throughout the continent in recent years as repressive regimes realise the power of internet disruption to stifle public debate, social action and dissent. 

"It is like being cut off the world", Françoise Mukuku, digital rights activist and former executive director of Si jeunesse savait, a DRC-based young women's organisation, told us from Kinshasa. "The frustration of not knowing when it will be back, topped up with the shame of having to call your friend in Europe, giving them your password so they can access your email on your behalf and retrieve the phone number of a very important contact. Almost in tears because you can't meet your work deadlines."

Read our analysis of the shutdowns, which includes quotes from members of our community in the region, context of these restrictions and some recommendations as internet shutdowns become increasingly feasible and straightforward.