It is now becoming an annual event that Ethiopia‘s government shuts down the Internet around the time of the East African country’s national secondary school final exams. This was confirmed an hour or two before midday (Central African Time) on 11 June 2019 by NetBlocks, an organization that tracks Internet disruptions and shutdowns.
Barely a few weeks ago, another East African country, Somalia, also announced it will be restricting mostly social media and instant messaging services. The reason provided by Abdullahi Godah Barre, Cabinet Secretary for Education in Somalia, during a broadcast on the state owned television station was that this would prevent students from cheating during the country’s national high school exams.
“NetBlocks diffscans, which map the entire IP address space of a country in real time, show internet outages corresponding to internet cuts in the region. Purposeful internet outages generally have a distinct network pattern used by NetBlocks to determine and attribute the root cause of an outage, a process known as attribution which follows detection and classification stages,” wrote NetBlocks.
Ethiopia has one telecommunications company, Ethio Telecom, which is also state-owned and the only provider of Internet access in the country. Thus, this makes it easy for Internet access to be shutdown at any time the government wishes just like it did when the country experienced prolonged protest during 2016.
The grade 10 and 12 national high school exams in Ethiopia are written for university entrance purposes and also allow students, once passed, to enrol into national vocational courses in the East African country.
Internet shutdowns across Africa are becoming an all too rather familiar occurrence. There is, so far, no clear proposed solution that, if implemented, will not also punish citizens for their government’s actions.