Ethiopia loses 144.8 million dollars due to internet shutdown
Ethiopia’s internet shutdown proves to be detrimental.
Ethiopia loses 144.8 million dollars due to internet shutdown in the period of February 9 to June 30, 2023 according to the newly launched Internet Society ‘NetLoss’ calculator that measures economic impact of internet shutdowns around the world.
Hosted on the Internet Society’s platform that tracks and analyzes shutdowns, NetLoss uses a novel econometric framework to understand the impacts of shutdowns and provides an unprecedented level of rigor and precision in estimating economic damage.
As indicated, internet shutdowns globally reached a record high in 2022; in Africa, with seven countries experiencing a total of nine shutdowns. The other African countries that experienced shutdowns were Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. In Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the shutdown finally began to conclude in February 2023, after 787 days of disruption.
“Governments often mistakenly believe that internet shutdowns will quell unrest, stop the spread of misinformation, or reduce harm from cyber security threats. But shutdowns are extremely disruptive to economic activity: they halt e-commerce, generate losses in time-sensitive transactions, increase unemployment, interrupt business-customer communications, and create financial and reputational risks for companies and also hurt a country’s growth as research shows internet adoption positively impacts GDP,” the platform revealed.
The calculator considered a wide range of economic impacts beyond traditional measures of economic output, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to demonstrate the financial impact of an internet shutdown. It also included the change in the unemployment rate, the amount of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) lost, and the risk of future shutdowns.
In the six months the country lost 28,698,784 million dollars in FDI, unemployment increased (persons) 2,447 percent and shutdown risk increased by 10.72 percent.
“The global rise in internet shutdowns shows that governments continue to ignore the negative consequences of undermining the open, accessible, and secure nature of the global internet,” said Andrew Sullivan, President and CEO of the Internet Society.
“The calculator is a major step forward for the community of journalists, policymakers, technologists and other stakeholders who are pushing back against the damaging practice of internet shutdowns. Its groundbreaking and fully transparent methodology will help show governments around the world that shutting down the internet is never a solution,” the CEO emphasized.
Four months into a social media ban, communications businesses and civil rights groups in Ethiopia are feeling the impact. Strict regulations are making it harder for them to reach audiences or verify information. In March, the country blocked access to Facebook, TikTok, Telegram and YouTube nationwide following a disagreement with the country’s Orthodox Church, where some religious leaders called for protests. But human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have said the ban violates freedom of expression and goes against Ethiopia’s constitution, laws and international treaties.
The ban was imposed following tensions in February, when three archbishops in Ethiopia’s Oromia region broke away from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and announced a new structure. The move resulted in clashes where at least three people were killed in Shashamene, over 200 kilometers south of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Church leaders and supporters then staged a protest and blacked out their social media pages to express solidarity. The government has also imposed similar bans since coming to power in 2018, including during the war in Tigray.
Amid global rise in internet shutdowns, the Internet Society launched the ‘NetLoss’ calculator to measure economic impact internet shutdowns around the world. As indicated, the groundbreaking calculator uses a unique econometric framework to give a new level of precision in estimating the impact of internet shutdowns worldwide.
Source: Capital Ethiopia
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