Addis Abeba – The international VPN review website Top10VPN has published a report indicating that Ethiopia has incurred the second highest economic losses globally due to government-imposed internet shutdowns and social media blocks in 2023.
The estimated financial impact on Ethiopia amounted to approximately $1.9 billion, surpassing Iran’s reported losses of $920.3 million.
Russia suffered a higher financial loss of $4.02 billion in 2023, according to the report.
In an effort to mitigate religious tensions, the Ethiopian government restricted access to prominent platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Telegram, and TikTok from February to July, according to the report.
These measures led to significant economic detriment, with losses calculated at $1.59 billion due to an internet blackout spanning 3,414 hours and a social media suspension of 11,496 hours. Concurrently, the demand for VPN services in Ethiopia rose by 3,651% following the imposition of these restrictions.
Additionally, an internet blackout was enforced in the Amhara region starting in August 2023 due to escalating tensions between the federal government and non-state militia Fano, with partial connectivity restoration occurring since November 2023.
The Top10VPN report further details that within Sub-Saharan Africa, state-enforced internet shutdowns have led to economic losses totaling $1.74 billion over 30,785 hours, affecting 84.8 million internet users. This positions the region as the second most affected globally, following Europe.
The report also examines the broader reasons for internet disruptions, with educational examinations being a primary cause, in addition to protests and efforts to control information flow. For instance, in Kenya, a significant economic loss of $27 million was attributed to a week-long suspension of Telegram, believed to be in response to suspected examination paper leaks.
The economic repercussions of internet restrictions extend to other African countries, such as Senegal, Algeria, and Guinea, which have also experienced financial challenges due to similar interruptions. AS