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How much will an internet shutdown cost the Zimbabwean economy?

If the government is to shut down the internet as many of us fear what will be the economic cost? That’s a pretty difficult thing to calculate but Netblocks made a tool just for that called – COST (Cost of Shutdown Tool).

How does it work?

COST is described as a data driven instrument that can quickly estimate the economic impact of Internet shutdowns and online restrictions. What informs the estimations?

  • Research papers published by the Brookings Institution for global coverage;
  • a specialised model by CIPESA for sub-Saharan Africa, taking into account indirect economic factors and informal economies that play a major role in the region and;
  • economic indicators are integrated from open data sources including the World Bank, ITU and Eurostat.

With all that out of the way, the tool estimates that a single day of total shutdown in Zimbabwe would set the country back US$5 742 421. Half a day without the internet would cost us US$2.8 million.

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Whilst the tool is not an accurate pointer of the exact figure that will be lost if the internet is shutdown, the point remains – significant amounts will be lost.

Taking into account a pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic is a new twist that further complicates such a situation. Business and education institutions are largely relying on the internet as employees work from homes, and (some) children continue their studies.

Beyond that, the public which relies largely on digital transactions cannot transact – so buying of groceries, medication or payments for service is also put on hold until the government decides to turn on the internet.

Ultimately, Internet Society asks a simple question;

If you knew that pulling the plug on your neighbourhood’s Internet connection was going to cost local businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales and productivity and cost dozens of people their jobs, would you still do it?

The Government of Zimbabwe knows the financial impact but for them that doesn’t really matter…


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7 thoughts on “How much will an internet shutdown cost the Zimbabwean economy?

  1. This is nonsense if you actually knew who and what the Brookings Institute is. In any case they’re not in any meaningful position to determine the economic consequences of anything in Zimbabwe because there is no relevant data to deduce this info from. We have a mainly informal economy which functions outside the information systems of the central government which would be best placed to collect the necessary data to evaluate the economic consequences of anything in statistical terms. Like just because someone is called What What Institute doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about.

    I’m not for shutting down internet but please we need higher standards for what passes as publishable material than “zvinenge zvinevachena mukati”

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