October 7, 2016 – by CyberEthiopia
New report: Internet shutdowns in Ethiopia cost the country US$9 million last year
A new report, released today, quantifies the economic cost of internet shutdowns around the world over the past year, including those that occurred in Ethiopia.
Brookings Vice President Darrell West authored the study, in which he examines 81 short-term shutdowns that occurred in 19 countries between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. He identifies the duration and scope of each shutdown, determines the population affected, and estimates its impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
West identified internet shutdowns that occurred in Ethiopia during that time and estimates that it cost a total of US$9 million, contributing to a total global cost of US$2.4 billion due to internet blackouts. A table showing the cost incurred by each of the 19 examined countries is included below.
According to the study, it will only become more expensive for nations to shut down the internet as the digital economy expands. And without coordinated action by the international community, this damage is likely to accelerate in the future and further weaken global economic development.
“As long as political authorities continue to disrupt internet activity,” writes West, “it will be difficult for impacted nations to reap the full benefits of the digital economy.”
It is to be recalled that Ethiopia was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to actively engage in political censorship of the Internet. Since May 2006, the then top five most popular Ethiopian web sites (including CyberEthiopia) and several blogs have been blocked across the nation with the apparent objective is to prevent the dissemination of information that is critical of the regime.
Following the political protests which have swept the nation since November 2015, the regime has routinely shutdown the Internet and restricted access to Social Media (including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber) and indicated its keenness to control Social Media in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.