Ethiopia per­sists with no In­ter­net

Antelope Valley Press - - SECOND FRONT - By CARA ANNA As­so­ci­ated Press

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Ethiopia is en­ter­ing its third week with­out In­ter­net ser­vice for al­most every­one af­ter days of deadly un­rest, as the gov­ern­ment in Africa’s diplo­matic and avi­a­tion hub says it’s try­ing to pre­vent speech that could fur­ther in­flame eth­nic ten­sions.

The In­ter­net cut has dam­aged the econ­omy in Africa’s sec­ond most pop­u­lous na­tion, with nearly 110 mil­lion peo­ple, as it strug­gles with the ef­fects of the Coro­n­avirus pan­demic. It also has re­vived some fears of gov­ern­ment re­pres­sion.

An up­date by In­ter­net mon­i­tor­ing group NetBlocks on Tues­day evening said some fixed-line In­ter­net had started to re­turn but the more wide­spread mobile In­ter­net re­mained cut.

Con­nec­tiv­ity early on had dropped as low as 1%, it said.

“The dis­rup­tion con­sti­tutes a se­vere vi­o­la­tion of ba­sic rights at a time Ethiopi­ans most need to stay in­formed,” NetBlocks has said, re­port­ing an es­ti­mated eco­nomic im­pact of more than $4 mil­lion per day.

The cut also has hurt the dis­sem­i­na­tion of key in­for­ma­tion about the Coro­n­avirus pan­demic as Ethiopia’s cap­i­tal, Ad­dis Ababa, is the home of the Africa Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion and other arms of the African Union con­ti­nen­tal body.

Last week as the Africa CDC pre­pared for its weekly me­dia brief­ing, one staffer was heard ask­ing an­other how to ex­plain to re­porters why the pre­vi­ous week’s brief­ing had been can­celed.

A pause. “We had tech­ni­cal is­sues,” a col­league replied.

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