Earlier this year our government shut down the internet to stifle protests and when the internet was restored the government the government made sure that we still didn’t have our beloved social media platforms to communicate. This was the case for a couple of days but then order was later restored and Zimbos have been chatting away on these platforms with no problems since then.
In Chad, unfortunately, there is a different reality. Internet access was cut off towards the end of March. 28 March if we’re being exact and since then nothing has changed. Of course, the internet shutdown came about as a result of political and economic tensions in the country. In Zimbabwe, it was the fuel crisis and the subsequent raising of fuel prices that led to the shutdown. In Chad, it was a proposed constitutional change that would allow the allegedly unpopular ruling party to stay in power until 2033 that triggered the social media apocalypse. Prior to this extended shutdown, the Chad government had already established their reputation for having a quick trigger finger when it came to shutting down the internet, as a similar move was made in 2016.
Though the shutdowns were quite common for the country with a 6% internet penetration rate, they never lasted as long as this one has. For the mobile operators following a political directive, they’ve resorted to calling the disruption a ‘technical challenge’ which is a big reflection of how powerless mobile network operators at the mercy of dictatorial regimes have become.
human rights activists and groups like Africa Freedom of Expression Exchange have been campaigning to bring an end to the internet blackout but thus far this has not been fruitful.