Top 5 countries with the costliest internet shutdowns in Africa 2024

internet shutdowns in Africa

In Africa, internet shutdowns have become increasingly common, especially during political conflicts and elections. Recently, several African governments have imposed internet blackouts to control information and suppress dissent during periods of political unrest.

In addition, many subsea cables have been damaged, adding to the latest internet disruptions that’s currently happening in Africa. Specifically, the internet cables that was damaged in the Red Sea are still awaiting repair due to conflicts caused by Yemen political splits.

This year, internet shutdowns have happened more often and lasted longer, especially during elections and conflicts. These shutdowns cause direct problems, like economic losses and harm to people. They also cause indirect issues, as people try to get around the blocks using unsafe VPNs.

In 2023, Sub-Saharan Africa lost $1.74 billion due to 30,785 hours of internet downtime, affecting 84.8 million people. However, the situation still remains the same or worse. A recent index by Top10VPN measured the financial impact of these internet shutdowns.

Since the start of 2024, 30 countries have held national elections. In 10 of these countries, stricter internet censorship has been recorded, affecting over 2.27 billion people. This means that 90.8% of people who have had an election this year have faced internet restrictions, which is more than a quarter of the world’s population.

These large-scale internet shutdowns around elections have cost an estimated $358.3 million so far. In Africa, for example, Senegal lost over $7.1 million due to internet restrictions during the postponement of their election.

Sudan has experienced significant losses this year due to internet shutdowns. The country lost $244.5 million because of a 3,981-hour internet shutdown, which impacted 3.6 million people.  Similarly, Ethiopia faced major economic losses due to internet restrictions due to preserving freedom in crisis. The country lost $130 million due to a 1,620-hour internet shutdown, affecting 3.3 million people.

Here are the Five (5) Countries with the most expensive internet shutdown in 2024:

Rank Country Total Cost Duration (hrs) Internet Users Affected Global Rank
1 Sudan $244.5 million 3,981 3.6 million 3
2 Ethiopia $130 million 1,620 3.3 million 5
3 Guinea $60.9 million 7,632 4.9 million 6
4 Senegal $15.4 million 1,219 8 million 10
5 Chad $3.8 million 69 1.8 million 11

In conclusion, the persistent trend of internet shutdowns in Africa highlights a troubling approach to handling political conflicts and elections. Since the beginning of 2024, increased censorship and large-scale internet blackouts have disrupted lives, economies, and the flow of information for millions. With national elections in 30 countries and heightened internet restrictions affecting over 2.27 billion people, the global impact is staggering.

The financial toll is immense, with shutdowns costing hundreds of millions of dollars. In Africa alone, Senegal lost over $7.1 million during election delays, Sudan experienced a $244.5 million loss from extended internet blackouts, and Ethiopia incurred a $130 million deficit. These figures underscore the severe economic and social consequences of such measures.

As internet shutdowns become a common tool for governments to control information and suppress dissent, the direct and indirect damages continue to mount. It is crucial to address this issue, promoting open communication and transparency to support democracy and protect citizens’ rights in the digital age.