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Uganda back online

By Judah Ben-Hur | January 18th 2021

Uganda's incumbent President Yoweri Museveni displays his inked finger after casting his vote at a polling station during the presidential elections in Kirihura in western Uganda, February 18, 2016. [James Akena, Reuters]

The internet has been restored in Uganda after being shut down on January 13, one day before Ugandans went to the polls.

However, according to NetBlocks - a non-governmental organization monitoring cyber security and governance of the intenet, Uganda's internet restoration is partial.

"Confirmed: Partial restoration of internet connectivity registered on day 5 of #Uganda election blackout; real-time network data show rise in connectivity to 37%," reads a tweet from NetBlocks.

Other sources including Ugandan multimedia journalist Patience Atuhaire and Head of TV for Reuters in East Africa, Nazanine Moshiri confirmed the news on Twitter after five days of the country going off the grid.

“Internet back on in #Uganda, after four days of total shut down,” tweeted Patience Atuhaire.

The NGO has also called on the Ugandan government to restore full access.

Last week, the Ugandan government through the Uganda Communication Commission issued an order directing telecommunication companies to immediately bar the access to social media platforms and cut internet access hours before voting started.

According to the daily monitor, Financial technology companies which see 300 million transactions everyday have claimed a daily Sh19.7 billion loss occasioned by the internet shutdown. 

This is not the first time the Ugandan government has shut down the internet. In February 2016 (just before the election), the government did the same stunt lasting for four days and affecting social media and mobile money services. In May the same year, Ugandans were disconnected from the internet for one day. 

A framework for calculating the economic impact of internet disruption in Sub-Saharan Africa by The Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) shows that Uganda loses about Sh194 million on daily basis duing internet shutdowns.

The disruption of access to social media over the five days in 2016 cost the country Sh242.2 million in loses.

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