The media advocacy group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has slammed the Ethiopian government for an internet shutdown believed to be linked with upcoming national exams.
According to RSF, the action was “a danger to freedom of information and press freedom.” The nationwide blackout started late Tuesday without formal communication.
A deputy communications minister later confirmed to the AFP news agency, Zadig Abrha as simply saying “mobile date has been deactivated.” It is not known when services will be restored.
The shutdown is aimed at preventing a repeat of leaks that occurred last year. We are being proactive. We want our students to concentrate and be free of the psychological pressure and distractions that this brings.
RSF Africa (@RSF_Africa) June 1, 2017
The government subsequently confirmed the shutdown and said it was to protect the integrity of high school exams. 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 respective exams are for university entrance purposes and also for enrollment into national vocational courses. “The shutdown is aimed at preventing a repeat of leaks that occurred last year,” Mohammed Seid, public relations director of Ethiopia’s Office for Government Communications Affairs, told Reuters.
“We are being proactive. We want our students to concentrate and be free of the psychological pressure and distractions that this brings.”
There was a widespread leak of exams papers last year leading to a cancellation of papers. Beside shutdowns related to education, the government has also blocked internet in the wake of anti-government protests that hit the country last year.
Even though it is not known exactly when services will be restored the government says only access to social media was blocked and that other essential services like airline bookings and banking outfits had access to internet. Diplomatic outfits and international organizations operating in the country also have connection.