Earlier this week, the Senegalese government imposed a nationwide ban on TikTok and subsequently cut off the entire internet on mobile devices.
According to Senegal’s Communications Minister Moussa Bocar Thiam, the government’s move is aimed at curbing misinformation by forces destabilizing the country.
Like many other African countries, in Senegal the only means of Internet access for many people is a smartphone rather than a computer and a fixed network. Therefore, Senegal’s decision made most mobile payment services unavailable, affecting people’s lives.
A resident living in Senegal, said she went to the market to buy things for customers but suddenly lost connection, couldn’t text, couldn’t pay bills, couldn’t pay for gas with an e-wallet like before… Everyone is in a similar situation and rushes to ATMs to withdraw cash.
In this area, people mainly update information through social networks such as TikTok, WhatsApp. Therefore, for those who are often active on social networks, disconnecting their mobile phone makes them feel like they are lost in the crowd.
TikTok and other social networks were not immediately available for comment.
Bridget Andere, senior policy advisor for Access Now – a non-profit organization that advocates for the digital rights of the sharing community, in times of crisis and political turmoil, access to information is a matter of life and death. . Not only affecting people, the Internet shutdown also negatively affected the country’s economy.
Telecom companies in Senegal received requests to shut down Internet and TikTok services between 8am and 2am the next morning, but it was not clear when the orders would be lifted.
Senegal is not the first country to cut off the Internet nationwide. In 2019, when fuel prices skyrocketed, Iran used to put fire barriers on the web. The night before the 2021 presidential election, Uganda also blocked the Internet. Due to political turmoil, the Ethiopian government has restricted access to some websites and the Internet for years.
According to a report by Top10VPN, a London-based Internet data tracking website by 2022, Internet bans in countries in Africa cost 1 million, affecting 132.2 million users. in the area.
Meanwhile, the Senegalese government insists that compared to the human impact caused by violent protests, the damage from shutting down the Internet is much smaller.