Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

Addis Ababa — Algeria and Ethiopia’s governments were responsible for the most documented incidents of internet shutdowns in Africa in 2019, when such episodes climbed almost 50%, according to advocacy group Access Now.

Algeria had six incidents and Ethiopia experienced four, the group said in a report. Benin, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Gabon and Liberia appeared on the list for the first time. In total the continent had 25 occurrences in 2019, eight more than the previous year, as governments tried to control the “free flow of information, deny people their right to access information and free expression,” it said.

Governments justified their actions by claiming they were meant to fight “fake news, hate speech or content promoting violence”, and as precautionary measures for “public safety, national security, school exams and technical problems”, Access Now said.

The shutdowns in 2019 were longer, geographically more targeted and included throttling access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Globally, 33 countries switched off access. India led with 121 incidences, more than half the 213 events recorded around the world.

Bloomberg