Ethiopia’s burgeoning economy has lost millions of dollars due to the government’s decision to shutdown Internet and mobile services.
Ethiopia has been lauded as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, frequent Internet shutdowns has cost the country about $9 million dollars between July 2015 and June 2016, Quartz reported.
The shutdown in the East African country, which has one of the lowest rates of Internet and mobile penetration in the world, has had a detrimental effect on both foreign and local businesses, DW reported.
This month, Peter Vrooman the US Chargé d’ Affaires to Ethiopia called on Addis Ababa to consider the importance of the Internet in the running of businesses in the country, Ezega reported.
“In business, time is money, which means businesses need to be able to communicate in real time. Having a strong attractive investment climate requires consistent and reliable communications. Internet and mobile data access are considered basic infrastructure that powers businesses,” Vrooman said.
Ethiopia is currently under a state of emergency, which was declared in October in response to months of violent anti-government protests centered in the Amhara and Oromia regions. The unrest led to Internet shutdown across the country as well as the incarceration of thousands and the death of hundreds.
Authorities, who blamed foreign-based opposition groups for the unrest, also accused activists of using social media to instigate the protests.
The rules of the six-month long state of emergency restricts Internet and mobile services. Social media services like Facebook and Twitter were also included in the ban.
In December, two months into the ban, the government has partially restored mobile Internet services, African News reported. However, social media and messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Viber, and Instagram are still blocked.
In 2006, Ethiopia became one of the first African countries to censor the Internet, Aljazeera reported. The censorship targeted opposition blogs.