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Senegal shuts down mobile Internet, again

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Senegal's authorities have shut down the mobile Internet after the country's President Macky Sall postponed the presidential elections scheduled for February 25, 2024.

The government also permanently withdrew the broadcasting license of Walf TV, a television broadcast service privately owned by media group Wal Fadjri.

Senegal's Ministry of Communications, Telecommunications and Digital Affairs released a statement saying mobile Internet services would be temporarily suspended from Sunday February 4, at 10PM because of the circulation of "several hateful and subversive messages" relayed on social media that posed "threats of disturbances to public order".

Minister Moussa Bocar Thiam said mobile operators are required to comply with the notified requisition to suspend the Internet on local mobile networks.

The withdrawal of Walf TV broadcasting license was due to the government citing that the TV station has allegedly been broadcasting violent images exposing teenagers, and subversive, hateful, and dangerous language that government believes undermines state security.

Walf TV took to social media to announce that it was off-air and later said that it would be seeking legal advice.

Senegal's history of Internet bans

The Internet shutdown in the West African country is the third one in a space of nine months.

In June 2023, the country cut access to mobile Internet services in certain areas and at certain times, following violent protests.

Along with suspending mobile Internet, Senegal has also withdrawn the broadcasting license of Walf TV alleging it was broadcasting violent images.   (Source: Image by DCStudio on Freepik)
Along with suspending mobile Internet, Senegal has also withdrawn the broadcasting license of Walf TV alleging it was broadcasting violent images.
(Source: Image by DCStudio on Freepik)

Those protests began after an opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, was sentenced to two years in prison, leading to people losing their lives.

In August 2023, the government cut mobile Internet access again, citing that it wanted to ensure public order following protests in which social media was allegedly used to distribute hateful and subversive messages.

African countries shutting down Internet

To establish control, African governments have taken to shutting down the Internet. For instance, during Zambia's election in 2021, the government blocked access to social media platforms.

In the same year, mobile operator MTN was taken to court in Eswatini for blocking Internet services to its users in the country during a week of anti-monarchy protests.

During Uganda's elections in 2021, the country's communications regulator ordered Internet service providers to block all social media platforms and messaging apps.

After the death of a protester in a scuffle with police in March 2021, Senegal also blocked social media apps.

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*Top image source: Image by www.slon.pics on Freepik.

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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