Senegal blocks Internet after election delay sparks protests

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February 5, 2024
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2 min read
online
  • Following the postponement of the presidential election on February 3, 2024, which sparked widespread protest, the Senegalese government has cut off Internet access throughout the country. 
  • Per a statement by Minister of Communication, Telecommunications and Digital Affairs  Moussa Bocar Thiam, the shutdown was “due to the dissemination of several hateful and subversive messages relayed on social networks in a context of threats of disturbances to public order.”
  • This is the third Internet outage that the nation has experienced in the last eight months.

In response to this development, Tidjane Deme, General Partner at Partech, a global investment platform for tech and digital companies, stated that the shutdown has far-reaching implications. 

“People underestimate how many things in our daily lives are dependent on mobile Internet,” he said.  

He cited digital payments, doctors checking sources for diagnosis or prescription, and accountants using SaaS as part of activities dependent on mobile Internet, adding that the government needs to know the impact of the Internet shutdown.

Also, Amnesty International's Senegal chapter has censured this development and called upon the government to  "respect freedom of the press and the rights of the citizens to be informed."

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In June 2023, the country restricted Internet access in response to a violent protest that began after Senegal's opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, was sentenced to two years in prison for "corrupting youths." 

According to NetBlocks, the cost impact of the Internet shutdown is approximately $332,502 per hour.  

For the same reason, the government shut down the Internet the following month.  

According to a Top10vpn report from 2023, the government-induced Internet blackouts resulted in 135 hours of blackouts, 3,811 hours of social media shutdowns, and a total cost of $57.4 million in Internet restrictions in Senegal.

Per the report, sub-Saharan Africa came in second after Europe, with $1.74 billion in losses spread over 30,785 hours and affecting 84.8 million Internet users.

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