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Connecting the World 6 June 2019

Turn the Internet Back On in Sudan, and Keep It On

The Internet Society is deeply concerned that the military transitional council of Sudan ordered the shutdown of mobile access to the Internet on 3 June 2019. According to Netblocks, Sudan’s two major mobile service providers, MTN and Mobitel (ZAIN), have blocked Internet services. In a country where the majority of users access the Internet via mobile devices, this move restricts Sudanese citizens from accessing Internet services.

We call on the military transitional council of Sudan to restore full access to the Internet and to #KeepItOn.

This partial Internet shutdown comes at a particularly critical moment for Sudan’s economic future. The monthly cost of fixed-line Internet can reach nearly half the average monthly income in Sudan[1]. This means many businesses depend on mobile access to reach customers, interact with suppliers, and run their business. Reliable connectivity is essential to many business operations. Blocking this access has an immediate financial impact on the Sudanese economy. It is likely to hit small and micro enterprises hardest. 

Last year, the Sudanese government reiterated its commitment to end cash government payments, aiming to make all government services payments electronic by early 2019. It also emphasized the importance of ensuring the widespread use of mobile payments in the country. Shutting off mobile access works against those objectives. Even worse, it prevents citizens from accessing those services.

Shutdowns also erode the trust people have that Internet infrastructure will work reliably. Over time, people simply stop using unreliable networks. This contributes to a cycle of reduced investment and further infrastructure decline. Internet shutdowns send a signal to investors that a Sudan’s Internet infrastructure is not resilient or reliable and the country has the capacity and the willingness to shut it down when it wants to. 

The Internet Society urges the military transitional council of Sudan to reverse its order and turn the Internet back on.

 


Update – 6 June 2019 – Netblocks is now reporting further restrictions across even more Internet providers within Sudan.


[1] Source – Freedom on the Net 2018 report (https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2018/sudan) citing “Numbeo as of September 2018. Average monthly salary is 3,333 SDG, compared to 1,250 SDG for monthly internet. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Sudan

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