Published: Thu, June 01, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Ethiopia cuts off internet after high school exam leaks

Ethiopia cuts off internet after high school exam leaks

There has been speculation that similar motives lie behind the latest "blackout", although some reject this. Ethiopia's internet service is entirely in the hands of Ethio Telecom, the state-owned telecom provider.

However, in Ethiopia's case, this is the third time in a year that the digital capabilities in the country have been blocked.

According to Ethiopian blogger Danel Birhane, the blackout has left very few companies and organizations online - only the ones that have alternative means of connectivity such as satellite communication.

A woman walks past an Ethio Telecom office in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, on November 9, 2015. Spotty internet access reportedly returned after 12 hours, on Wednesday morning. "I can not even monitor my own website, social media platforms or check emails; it's really complicated", Birhane said in an interview with DW. "Something needs to be done", he said. Around the same time in 2016, Ethiopia blocked access to social media sites-including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram- after copies of the exams were leaked online. Just last month, an Ethiopian court sentenced opposition politician Yonatan Tesfaye to six and a half years in prison for allegedly criticizing the government through his Facebook posts.

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This is nothing new for the country's government as it has done the same thing before.

Mohammed did not give a precise date regarding when the shutdown would be lifted, but added it would last throughout the exam period. Mobile and landline phone networks are also crippled in much of the country's two biggest regions, Oromia and Amhara, where anti-government protesters have become common over the last two years. "The shutdown is aimed at preventing a repeat of leaks that occurred past year", Mohammed Seid, public relations director of Ethiopia's Office for Government Communications Affairs, told Reuters. Thousands of students will take the Grade 10 exams between May 31 until June 2 whiles Grade 12 papers will be taken between June 5 and June 8.

The move is a common one across many developing nations: Algeria also blocked access to social media, in June past year, in an attempt to fight cheating in school exams.

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