How do you feel on a normal day with no internet? Imagine that for over a year. Thats the struggle for the Chadian people for over a year.
How is possible to run anything digital? When the country’s president shut down the internet.
Salim Azim Assani, who lives in Chad, is finding out the hard way of living after living under internet sensor ship for more than a year. He runs a digital co-working space, WenaLabs.
He has resorted to using expensive Virtual Private Networks to circumvent the shutdown.
“It’s absolutely necessary to use VPN and very often we find ourselves abroad using it only to realize we don’t need it elsewhere”Assani said
The social media blackout began in March 2018 after recommended reforms to the constitution that would allow the President Idriss Deby to stay in power until 2033. At the time the president would be 81 year-old.
The country’s internet services was shutdown almost immediately after the reforms were announced.
Executive Director at Internet Without Borders (IWB), Julie Owono, mentioned to news reporters
“Last year on March 28, we received various reports from our reports from our resources on the ground that access to WhatsApp was very difficult or just impossible in some places.”Julie Owono
It is believed that the shutdown was introduced because violent videos were being shared via WhatsApp. The videos which showed clashes among Zaghawa tribe in northern Chad.
Communal clashes are rife in Chad, a landlocked country in central Africa, since March 28 the government shutdown the internet based on those findings.
Effects of censorship on the economy
Internet shutdown in 10 sub-saharan African countries led to a shortfall of more than $235 million from 2015 to 2017, according to reports.
IWB reports that the shutdown cost the Chadian economy at least $20 million since it began las March, and it has been felt.
Lack of attention to the situation
Chad barely finds itself in the international spotlight, which is why most individuals are just getting this information. Other than the trail and conviction against humanity, of former dictator Hissene Habre.
Although, this doesn’t diminish its importance on the international stage.
Chads physical location is in the heart of a part of Africa. It borders on Sudan and Libya. Part of the lake Chad basin.
From the onset very few people had access to internet and social media. As at 2017 it was reported that 768,000 people in a country of 15 million used the internet.
And now even fewer people are able to gain any access.
A campaign on Twitter under the hastag #Maalla_Gatétou meaning “Why did you cut me off” in Chadian Arabic.
Proposed meeting between the Internet Without Borders (IWB) was scrapped after Chadian authorities declined an invitation to dialogue.