The government of Uganda on Wednesday 13th, January 2021 at about 6PM East African Time (EAT) shut down the internet countrywide ahead of the Presidential and Parliamentarians elections on January 14th, 2021. The directive was issued by President Museveni who even affirmed it [directive] when asked by press.
It partially begun by shutting down social media platforms and over 100 Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). In addition to this, access to App store and Google Playstore was blocked with no way of downloading any applications. Even with the public outcry, the directive remained until Monday 18th, January 2021 at about 9AM East African Time (EAT) when the 4 day internet blackout was restored. However, social media and VPNs still remain blocked.
With internet being off for 4 days, social media addicts went old-school —using SMS and traditional phone calls as away of social communication. This also saw smartphone users not over charging their phones. It’s with no doubt that, over spending time on your phone socializing drains your battery, and this time around with the internet shut down a single charge lasted long.
However, with the internet shut down, nothing was missed that much. Literally everything remains still as we left them on January 13th, but online businesses lost out, running ads with the target market as Ugandans went to waste, to mention a few.
There’s no time frame issued by the government on when the internet, social media and VPNs will be fully restored. This might probably be after the President is sworn in.
Facebook accounts of Uganda’s top officials linked to President Museveni’s also still remain blocked. The officials were accused of using fake and duplicate accounts to impersonate users, re-share posts in groups to make them appear more popular than they were. Facebook said government’s actions were equivalent to Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour.