Mauritania joins Ethiopia, Sudan in Africa’s ‘internet blackout zone’

Internet cuts are estimated to cost African economies thousands of dollars each day the plugs are off
Mauritania joins Ethiopia, Sudan in Africa's 'internet blackout zone'

Online rights group, NetBlocks; reported on Tuesday that most parts of Mauritania have had Internet connectivity cut. The group said the internet blackout was linked to post-election incidents in the country.

“Mauritania is in the midst of a near-total internet blackout as of 3:30 pm UTC Tuesday 25 June 2019, following contested presidential elections held during the weekend.

“Real-time network measurement data provide evidence that the country has been disconnected amid the election controversy, following over 48 hours of widespread mobile internet disruptions,” NetBlocks said in a statement.

Related: Court in Sudan orders authorities to resume internet services

Presidential elections were held in Mauritania last Saturday (June 22), and Mohamed Ghouzani, the ruling party’s candidate has since been declared winner. The opposition coalition has, however, rejected the outcome, and is calling for peaceful protests.

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NetBlocks added, “all of Mauritania’s consumer internet providers, Mauritel, Chinguitel, and Mattel, are currently impacted by the outage, with 92% of nationwide connectivity knocked out. A small number of users report that they have maintained degree of intermittent connectivity.”

Mauritania now becomes the latest African country to have its internet cut off, joining the likes of Ethiopia and Sudan. The outage in all three instances are for political reasons.

Related: Light in the dark: Sudanese internet users find alternatives amidst blackout

Sudan and Ethiopia also have high national security considerations for the move.

While Sudanese have been offline for weeks now following a violent break up of a sit-in in Khartoum the country’s capital, Ethiopia, on the other hand, imposed a blackout on Saturday in the wake of what the government referred to as co-ordinated armed attacks in the northern Amhara Region and in the capital Addis Ababa.

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 The army chief, Seare Mekonnen, and four other top profile officials were killed in the attacks.

Related: Internet blackout hits cities in Ethiopia

Prior to the latest move when national exams were taking place, Ethiopia had incidentally blocked the internet for over a week. The government and operator did not state the reason but Ethio Telecom issued apologies for the outage and announced that affected clients would receive compensation packages.

Though Internet cuts are estimated to cost African economies thousands of dollars each day the plugs are off, governments still use the measure for different reasons – mainly over security, elections, during protests and examinations.

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