Reported internet outages in Ethiopia amid news of coup attempt

25 Jun 2019296 Views

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More than 97pc of users in Ethiopia were reportedly offline as of Monday, according to data revealed by NetBlocks.

Ethiopia has been in the middle of an internet blackout since Saturday (22 June), making it difficult to ascertain details of a reported attempt to unseat the Amhara regional state government.

NetBlocks reports that as of 8.30pm (UTC) on Monday evening, more than 97pc of Ethiopia remained disconnected from the internet.

The disruption, now entering its third day, has made it difficult for journalists and other observers to assess details on the ground. Tracking by the NetBlocks observatory has suggested that a nationwide disconnection may have been imposed after the coup plot was uncovered “in support of counter-operations to put down the insurgency”.

Recent reports have claimed that the ringleader of the coup was killed as he attempted to escape from his hideout in the Amhara capital. It was also reported that Ethiopia’s army chief, General Seare Mekonnen, was killed while trying to resist the coup. Amid the deaths, the Ethiopian government has declared a day of mourning.

The recent outages come after Ethiopia’s internet was totally cut off earlier this month. The disruption followed the partial restriction of messaging apps, a measure believed to be aimed at countering cheating during national second-level final exams. Internet connectivity ebbed and flowed for a week.

NetBlocks uses various measures such as latency round-trip time and outage types to determine internet performance, and diffscans to map the entire IT address space of a country in real time to determine whether internet outages are intentional.

Internet outages were also reported in Sudan earlier this month as news of political turmoil trickled out of the country. After initially denying it, the country’s military leadership admitted to cutting off internet. Reports said this made it difficult for citizens to stay informed and get to safety, and also for both internal and external observers to monitor various alleged human rights violations.

Eva Short is a Journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com