Internet use in today’s world has become mainstream rather than the exception. We have been accustomed to using the internet thanks to the rise of smartphones and cheaper data plans. Internet use has made it easier for people to communicate around the world or within a certain society and some authorities do not like that.
That is why from time to time, we get to hear stories of governments cutting off access to the Internet due to various reasons. Gambia is the latest country to do this and it is linked to the election.
— StateOfTheInternet (@akamai_soti) November 30, 2016
Gambia is scheduled for an election today where the incumbent is seeking a fifth term. They apparently shut down the internet on the eve of the event. That is not all, they have also locked down the ability for people to make foreign calls.
Internet and all international calls are currently suspend in The Gambia. Gambians head to the polls tomorrow.
— Gambia Decides (@GambiaDecides) November 30, 2016
The move of course was not met with joyous praise and admiration on social media, but rather more like an angry crowd with pitchforks and burning effigies. People expressed their disappointment and hoped that the election goes on peacefully.
Dear, African nations let's pray for peaceful Elections in Gambia. The massive INTERNET OUTAGES on such day, SPEAKS volumes!!! Let's watch!!
— Atanas (@atanasi_) December 1, 2016
Total information black out in #Gambia, no phone calls going through, no internet access Help us spread the word, dictators can't be trusted
— Fatu Camara (@Fatushow) November 30, 2016
Gambia decides today! Peace peace peace
— Yus Jobarteh (@yusjobarteh) December 1, 2016
#Gambia switch off: The internet in Africa is proving to be an unreliable (additional) platform on which democratic space can be expanded
— Frank Hook (@FrancisHookDF) November 30, 2016
It is reported that the blackout is being extended all the way to Saturday, which is rather unfortunate.
Confirmed phone & internet blackout in #Gambia. Shutdown this evening & will remain until Saturday. "Free & fair elections" Jammeh style.
— Monica Mark (@nickswicks) November 30, 2016
Gambia is not the only African country to block its citizens from accessing the web due to some reason. Uganda had an election on February this year and they subsequently blocked access to the web which was met with a lot of opposition. Ethiopia blocked Internet access due to exams and protests in the country. According to the UN, Internet is now considered as a human right and these countries have clearly violated that and it only grows the list of countries that have disrupted Internet access to its citizens.