Afrinic, the body responsible for managing and distributing IP addresses across Africa, is considering measures in an upcoming meeting in June in Kenya that will see it refrain from giving new IP addresses to governments and government-related bodies that have ordered a shutdown of the internet in the last 12 months.
The proposals also include more severe measures being taken if governments and related bodies have shut the internet down three or more times in the last 10 years. In such a situation, “all resources to the aforementioned entities shall be revoked and no allocations to said entities shall occur for a period of 5 years.”
The moves come following a trend that started in 2011 when Egyptian authorities shut the internet down prior to a big march. Reports suggest that employees of ISPs and mobile phone companies were targeted by troops at gunpoint.
Since then, internet shutdowns have become more frequent across the African continent. It has occurred in Libya, Cameroon, Ethiopia and a number of other African countries. It would be mistaken, however, to assume that it is exclusive to Africa; the trend across Africa is also reflected elsewhere in the world, with internet shutdowns being particularly problematic in countries such as India, Turkey and Iraq. A study by Philip Howard, Sheetal Agarwal, and Muzammil Hussain in their The Dictators’ Digital Dilemma showed that internet shutdowns increased by 110% between 1995 to 2010. Internet shutdowns have happened with such regularity that the United Nations passed a resolution in 2016 called The Promotion, Protection, and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet extending the rights enjoyed offline to the internet.
The chart in this post shows the worst offenders of internet shutdowns in Africa in 2016. It also reveals that more than one in five countries in Africa shut the internet down in 2016. Africa was the worst culprit for internet shutdowns in 2016, slightly tipping Asia.
The United Nations’ resolution can be read here.