#Mauritania joins Ethiopia, Sudan in Africa’s ‘internet blackout zone’

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Internet connectivity has been cut in most parts of Mauritania, online rights group, NetBlocks; reported on Tuesday. The group said the outage was linked to post-election incidents in the country.

“Mauritania is in the midst of a near-total internet blackout as of 3:30 p.m. UTC Tuesday 25 June 2019, following contested presidential elections held during the weekend.

“Real-time network measurement data provide evidence that the country has been disconnected amid the election controversy, following over 48 hours of widespread mobile internet disruptions,” NetBlocks said in a statement.

All of Mauritania’s consumer internet providers, Mauritel, Chinguitel and Mattel, are currently impacted by the outage, with 92% of nationwide connectivity knocked out. A small number of users report that they have maintained degree of intermittent connectivity.

The West African country held presidential elections last Saturday (June 22) and the ruling party’s candidate Mohamed Ghouzani has since been declared winner, an outcome the opposition coalition has rejected calling for peaceful protests.

“All of Mauritania’s consumer internet providers, Mauritel, Chinguitel and Mattel, are currently impacted by the outage, with 92% of nationwide connectivity knocked out. A small number of users report that they have maintained degree of intermittent connectivity,” NetBlocks added.

Mauritania joins Ethiopia and Sudan in the bracket of African countries that have internet blackouts in place. In all three instances, the outages are for political reasons.

Ethiopia and Sudan also have high national security considerations for the move. Sudanese have been offline for weeks now in the aftermath of a violent break up of a sit-in in the capital Khartoum.

Ethiopia on the other hand imposed a blackout on Saturday in the wake of what the government called coordinated armed attacks in the northern Amhara Region and in the capital Addis Ababa.

Five top profile officials including the army chief, Seare Mekonnen, were killed in the attacks.

Incidentally, Ethiopia had blocked the internet for over a week prior to the latest move when national exams were taking place. The government and operator did not state the reason but Ethio Telecom apologized for the outage and announced compensation packages for affected clients.

Internet outages are estimated to cost African economies thousands of dollars each day the plugs are off. That has not deterred governments from using the measure for different reasons – mainly over security, elections, during protests and examinations.

Source : africanews

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