There’s growing concern about the price Africa will pay for internet shutdowns and fake news
24 November 2017
The internet has been lauded as a panacea for Africa—a tool for economic, political and social transformation. The availability of mobile broadband and fiber optic connections has been hailed for enabling e-commerce and spurring innovative industries in education, health, insurance, and beyond. Lower smartphone prices are also driving a digital revolution across the continent, allowing more people to access the internet at unprecedented levels.
But Sudanese-British billionaire and businessman Mohammed Ibrahim now says that internet shutdowns and the spread of fake news on social media threaten the continent’s digital development. In an interview with Quartz, Ibrahim lamented how governments continue to frequently block the internet and social media outlets—including as recently as last week during Somaliland’s presidential elections.
“Closing down of the internet is really a crime. And that should not be tolerated,” Ibrahim said, specifically mentioning the 93-day blackout this year in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions. “To try to gag the people and silence them is not appropriate really. It’s not acceptable.”