One-fifth of African countries likely to witness Internet switch off

The 52-hour blackout which hit Syria last week is also possible in another 61 countries, including 12 in Africa, mostly those where the Internet is controlled by one or two telecoms, according to a report by Renesys.

The report further states that 12 countries in Africa are vulnerable to government interference or control of the Internet, particularly as many states now feel threatened by social media after last year’s Arab spring revolution.

In other countries, the threat of an Internet clampdown could be because of a physical attack on the infrastructure — such as satellite stations or the fibre-optic network.

Regionally, Ethiopia is on the list after it clamped down on various Amharic news websites as well as voice over internet protocol service Skype.

The report notes that a limited number of providers easily makes a blackout possible. It points out that in Syria, the shutdown was possible as the country has Internet provision only from state-owned Syrian Telecom.

Citing an analysis by networking firm Cloudflare, the shutdown was less of a terrorist attack, as claimed by Syrian authorities, as it only took four minutes to stop connections, suggesting a more coordinated cut-off.

Other countries in the continent include Libya, Swaziland, Djibouti, Central African Republic, Gambia Lesotho, Tunisia, Somalia, Mauritania, Mali and Guinea.

The report puts another 72 countries with three to 10 internet providers at significant risk. Egypt for example, during the Internet shutdown, had seven companies although Noor, a telecoms operator, took several days to shut down.

Countries that split their Internet connection at the border with several countries like Afghanistan, the report says, are unlikely to have Internet shut down as a result of political reasons.

Kenya was rated in the low risk category together with Tanzania constituting the only east african countries with relative stability in internet connections.

However, the most unlikely countries to experience a shutdown include 32 states that have 40 or more telecoms operators, the report concludes.

Posted in: Internet

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