Sub-Saharan African countries lost $1.74 billion to government-induced shutdowns in 2023, a new report by Top10vpn, an international VPN review website said.
According to the report, it has been revealed that Nigeria stood out as one of the few sub-Saharan African countries to avoid internet shutdowns in 2023.
Expert says the absence of an internet shutdown suggests that people in that country have continuous and unrestricted access to the internet, allowing them to communicate, access information, and participate in online activities without disruption imposed by the government.
It is worth noting that Nigeria, which topped Africa in terms of internet shutdown losses in 2021 when the government banned Twitter (now X), did not record any shutdowns in 2023. The ban on Twitter from June 5, 2021, to January 13, 2022, reportedly cost Nigeria an estimated N10.72 trillion, according to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
However, the report highlighted Ethiopia as the hardest-hit country, losing a significant $1.59 billion, which accounted for 91 percent of the total financial losses incurred by the region in 2023. The Ethiopian government implemented a total of 14,910 hours of internet shutdowns, citing the need to quell protests triggered by religious tensions. Major platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Telegram, and TikTok were restricted, affecting approximately 29.8 million internet users in the country.
Other African nations that suffered losses due to internet shutdowns include Kenya, Algeria, Guinea, Sudan, Tanzania, Cuba, Chad, and Zimbabwe.
Globally, Europe led in terms of internet shutdowns in 2023, losing $4.02 billion over 1,365 hours of disruptions affecting 182.59 million people. Sub-Saharan Africa followed with $1.74 billion in losses spread over 30,785 hours and impacting 84.8 million internet users.
While the global economic impact of internet shutdowns decreased by 67 percent compared to 2022, the duration of shutdowns increased by 18 percent in the same period. The report emphasized the damaging effects of internet shutdowns, both in terms of economic and human costs, and highlighted concerns about citizens resorting to unsafe VPNs to circumvent imposed restrictions.