Internet web. Picture: THINKSTOCK
Internet web. Picture: THINKSTOCK

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been without internet access for more than a week after the government told network operators, including Vodacom and Orange, to suspend those services.

Web access in the Central African nation was cut on December 31 as the state sought to quell any uprising pending the outcome of a hotly contested presidential election. The country voted for a successor to President Joseph Kabila in late December.

A spokesperson for Vodacom confirmed that internet services in the country had been halted.

Vodacom had 12.8-million customers in the DRC at the end of September 2018. Of those, five-million were data users, including 2.3-million active mobile-money customers.

An Orange spokesperson told Business Day that “like all other operators, we are subject to the regulations in force in each country and must respect the official instructions of its authorities”.

According to reports, the state told network operators to cut internet access in order to stop the spread of false election data and to avoid a “popular uprising”.

But representatives of the EU, US, Canada and Switzerland have urged the government to restore internet access.

“We request that the government refrain from blocking means of communication, in particular, access to the internet and the media,” the parties said in a statement last week.

AFP reported on Tuesday that the UN Security Council had postponed a key meeting on the elections at SA's request, after an announcement about the results was delayed.

The council was due to hold a public meeting on Tuesday, though this is now expected to take place on Friday, according to council diplomats.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za