Government Says There Will be No Internet Shutdown During Elections

  • The Kenyan government has announced that it will not switch off the internet during or after the August 8 elections.

    This assurance was made by officials of the Communications Authority to reporters on Tuesday.

    “We are using all possible means not to reach a level where the country can be in tension and force us maybe to take a drastic step,” Director General Francis Wangusi told the media at CA headquarters.

    A survey of over 130 countries by American-based firm Akamai, found that Kenya has the world’s 14th-fastest mobile internet speed beating United States (ranked 28th), South Korea among others.

    Due to cheaper data plans and services like M-Pesa, over 88% of Kenya’s population access the internet through their mobiles phones.

    Kenya also had an estimated 37.7 million internet users in June 2016, 85.3% of the population, according to the CA’s latest statistics. 

    ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru emphasised the same point saying, “I can tell you categorically that is not government policy. It is not our expectation the country will be in the position to shut down internet services.

    “We are a digital country and that is not our intention. It is not even a remote fall back position.”

    A survey by Brookings, an American research group, recently put the cost of internet shutdowns at $2.4 billion (Sh249.16 billion).

    There were 81 short-term internet shutdowns in 19 countries between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016. Morocco lost $320 million, the Republic of Congo lost $72 million, while Uganda lost $2 million for internet disruption for five days.

    Several African countries including Gambia, Ghana, Gabon and Uganda have over the past two years shut down electronic communications for political reasons during elections.

    Others who have closed down the internet for political reasons are the Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Morocco, Algeria, Burundi, Libya, Egypt, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Niger.

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