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Africa faces $2 billion loss after Internet shutdowns

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Jenna Delport
Jenna Delport
I’m a tech writer, world traveller, avocado-eater and dog lover, not always in that order.

The African continent is facing a loss of more than $2 billion as a result of deliberate Internet shutdowns in 2019. According to digital advocacy group, Access Now, “An Internet shutdown is an intentional disruption of Internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information.”

The shutdowns saw African’s facing a combined 7 800 hours without the Internet, with Algeria, Chad, DRC, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe acting as the worst offenders, reports Internet research firm Top10VPN.

“We collated every national and region-wide incident, determined the duration of the restrictions and used the Cost of Shutdown Tool [COST] to calculate their economic impact. This tool, developed by Internet monitoring NGO Netblocks and advocacy group The Internet Society, uses indicators from the World Bank, ITU, Eurostat and US Census.”

“We calculated over 18 000 hours of Internet shutdowns around the world in 2019 to have cost the global economy $8.05 billion. This represents a 235% increase in impact compared to $2.4 billion in 2015/16, according to the most recently available analysis.”

Essentially resulting in more Internet shutdowns in 2019 than any year before.

“We included major incidents, ie, which were national or region-wide in their impact that took place during the last 12 months. However, once you include the 90-plus smaller blackouts in India plus other localised and partial restrictions, it’s clear that the previous year’s record total of 196 documented shutdowns has been surpassed.”

Edited by Jenna Delport

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