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Ethiopia shuts down internet access ahead of exams

Ethiopia shuts down internet access ahead of exams, the national examination is due to take place in the country this Wednesday.The telecommunication company behind this black out is Ethio Telecom.The blackout started on Tuesday, 30 May ahead of a scheduled national examination that was due to take place in the country on Wednesday.

As we speak It is unclear whether both mobile and fixed internet connections are all included, but majority of Ethiopians who do use the internet do so on mobile devices. The shutdown affected many, leaving those with alternative connections such as satellite communication.

Ethiopia’s deputy communications minister, Zadig Abrha, confirmed to AFP on Wednesday that “mobile data has been deactivated,” but declined to provide any further information. The country’s sole telecommunications provider, the state-owned Ethio Telecom, has also refused to comment.

Quick overview of Ethio telecom

Ethio telecom, previously known as the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC), is an integrated telecommunications services provider in Ethiopia, providing internet and telephone services. Ethio telecom is owned by the Ethiopian government and maintains a monopoly over all telecommunication services in Ethiopia.

Based in Addis Ababa, it is one of the “Big-5” group of state owned corporations in Ethiopia, along with Ethiopian Airlines, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Ethio-Insurance, and the Ethiopian Shipping Lines.Ethio telecom was managed, on a management contract arrangement from 2010 to 2013 June, by France Télécom, and was required to comply with Ethiopian Government orders.

Julie Owono, the director of Paris-based internet freedom organization Internet Sans Frontières (ISF), says that the latest reports she has received were that internet connectivity had returned by Thursday morning, but that connectivity was not stable or fast. Owono tells Newsweek that access to some social media websites remains restricted.

But Owono says that the risk of an exam leak does not justify shutting down mobile internet for the entire population, and that the Ethiopian government’s repeated use of the tactic shows that it “fears connectivity.”

“For the wrong reasons, [it] sees the internet as a threat rather than as an opportunity,” says Owono. She points out that increasing internet connectivity and availability is part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda for development. “The reaction of the Ethiopian regime is contrary to this global aim.”

But the question that I’m asking is, Is it necessary to block national internet access due to examination malpractices? Lets know what your views are.


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