Earlier this month, Top10VPN.com released a report tagged The Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns in 2019 which estimated that Africa and the Middle East lost $5.295 billion as a result of the global internet shutdown.

According to the report, there were 122 major incidents recorded with a total of 18,000 hours of global internet shutdowns last year. This cost global economies $8.05 billion, representing a 235 percent increase from the $2.4 billion impacts in 2015/2016.

Cases of Internet shutdowns by governments mainly occur as a response to protests or civil unrest, restricting the flow of information and maintaining their grip on power. This authoritarian decision does not only curtail citizens’ freedom of expression and press freedom but also disrupts the affairs of the economy.

Thus the birth of the #KeepItOn campaign, founded by 120 organizations and advocacy groups that track internet shutdowns around the world, and also put pressure on governments and policymakers to end to the disastrous ordeal. 

Internet shutdowns affect economies in multiple ways such as upsetting productivity, a downturn in foreign investment and generating monetary losses in time-sensitive transactions. As of January 2019, Zimbabwe reportedly lost $ 5.7 million each of the six days the internet was unavailable. 

Similarly, Sudan bore the brunt of Internet shutdowns in Africa following protests that led to the ouster of former president Omar al-Bashir and resulted in a fallout between the military and civilians. In a month-long shutdown in June 2019, the Sudanese government cost the country over $1 billion, or nearly one percent of the country’s GDP, with a total of 864 hours of Internet blackouts. 

Other countries that experienced internet shutdowns in Africa last year include Algeria, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mauritania, Egypt, Benin, Gabon, Eritrea, and Liberia.

Notwithstanding the impact on the entire economy, businesses that are heavily dependent on electronic transactions like ICT companies, service providers, streaming sites, online stores, and small digitized companies amongst others are particularly exposed to the consequences of an internet shutdown.

Internet shutdowns affect the entire economy and also have a significant negative effect on internet-dependent businesses. These businesses suffer consequential losses which dampen their reach for foreign investment and access to potential customers. Under the human rights law, the UN recognizes the right to internet access and condemns countries that deliberately disrupt the internet access of their citizens. These countries should bear in mind that both their economy, citizens and businesses suffer from the oppressive decision

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