The Senegalese government has announced that access to internet services would be restricted from Monday to curb the spread of hateful messages on social media.
This latest announcement from Moussa Bocar Thiam, the country’s minister for communications, comes after Ousmane Sonko, an opposition leader, was charged on Saturday with insurrection, criminal conspiracy, and other offences.
This is not the first time the Senegalese Government will restrict internet access in 2023. Technext had earlier reported that social media usage in the country was restricted following the arrest of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who was sentenced to two years imprisonment, and a tweet from PASTEF (Patriotes Africains du Sénégal Pour le Travail, l’Éthique et la Fraternité), asking all Senegalese citizens to hit the streets and reject the verdict.
At the time, the Ministry of Communication, Telecommunications and the Digital Economy informed that due to the dissemination of hateful and subversive messages in a context of disturbance of public order in certain localities of the national territory, the Internet of mobile data is temporarily suspended during certain time slots. Telephone operators are required to comply with notified requisitions.
Impact of internet disconnections in Senegal
The recent internet restrictions in Senegal are surprising, given that the country is considered one of the region’s more stable democracies. In 2021, Senegal disabled social media apps after a protester died in a clash with police, making it the second time in three years that the West African country will cut down its internet connection.
The citizens would not welcome this second internet restriction of 2023. Earlier this year, a Senegalese wrote to Technext to describe the pains of surviving an internet lockdown.
“I can confirm that we’re having huge problems with communication channels and information sharing. Since 3/4 June we’ve been using VPNs to access networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.
The goals of internet censorship are to safeguard intellectual property, manage cybercrime, and prevent the spread of false news, such as hoaxes and propaganda. However, every coin has two sides, and the issue of internet control raises both perks and disadvantages.
In a report by Impakter, internet outages can cost a country’s economy millions of dollars since they make it impossible for people and businesses to perform online transactions and interfere with online banking systems. Senegal has lost $16.7 million due to internet outages that have affected 8.01 million Internet users.
Not only are internet outages harmful to Africa’s economy regularly, but a government shutdown in internet connection violates rights and threatens democracy. Furthermore, it can suppress the violent protests that have afflicted the country once hailed as Africa’s paragon of peace and stability.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!