[Community-Discuss] "Fighting Internet Shutdown" - Any Role for AFRINIC?

Badru Ntege badru.ntege at nftconsult.com
Tue Apr 18 14:44:10 UTC 2017

+1  Noah well put. 

 If we do not seek to understand through dialogue we become the same as those forcing shutdowns where unfortunately for us in reality we have very limited bargaining powers with a sovereign state.  As much as we might want to think otherwise.



On 4/16/17, 9:27 AM, "Noah" <noah at neo.co.tz> wrote:


Under normal circumstances, the internet is open in most African countries save for a few that censor it to a certain extend.

Half of the continent is not connected to the internet especially folk in rural Africa and we all know the challenges (a data plan ain't a basic need). These are the folk that account for more that 50% of the electorate and majority of them are not connected to the cyber space.

So cutting off the internet from a minority population of elites in urban centers to contain political uprisings/opposition is a strategy worthy exploring as far as some of our governments are concerned. Mind you there has been a lot of cyber-laws being enacted by both policymakers and lawmakers across different African countries as a way of containing/censoring the cyber space.

We can not deny the fact that social media has been a disruptive tool that has taken away control of information dissemination from the State. It was easy to control broadcasting [The Radio/Television] as the center of production was a physical location which the authority could just walk in and switch off the antennas or the spectrum during times of political uprisings. Today information can be sent through twitter, facebook, instagram all done in real time almost at the speed of light and/or from someones bedroom.

So whenever political power is threatened by means of the cyber space, the quickest hack for mostly despotic governments is to shutdown the Internets if they cant block or censor them hence the suppression [1]. 

So for me personally, I am more interested in folks debating the various political factors that lead to internet shutdown and we must accept that the its politics and nothing but politics that attract the final shutdown. 

Therefore stakeholders who intend to engage governments to lobby for an open internet can only engage the politicians when they understand how serious an open internet is a threat to any governments whose regime in under threat during times of political protests and would not hesitate for a second to press the off button and like SM indicated to contain political opposition.

We have a long way to fight for the liberties of all kind but a multi-stakeholder discourse is a starting point in promoting internet freedom.

The Internet is a growing tool not just for personal communication, but for nations economies and the case for Internet has to be as important as any other factor that drives the GDP growth of a sovereign state's economy and the is no no doubt that the digital economy is expected to grow more that we could imagine. So lets look at all options.


[1] Needless to say, In other parts of the world, censorship and surveillance has become the norm and an alternative to internet shutdown. If the people are not free, how do you expect the internet to be free?   Thinking Snowden and Julian Assange for a second....

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