How much did Uganda lose in the recent Internet Shutdown

Internet Shutdowns are a common government practice during times such as elections. Uganda’s January 13th internet shutdown saw the nation without internet for a period of 5 days. Uganda’s government ordered the “Suspension Of The Operation Of Internet Gateways”. According to cloudflare, Uganda’s unusual traffic patterns quickly popped up in their charts. Their 7-day change in Internet Traffic chart in Uganda shows a clear drop to near zero starting around 1900 local time, when the providers received the letter. The traffic drop was also confirmed by the Uganda Internet exchange point, a place where many providers exchange their data traffic, on their public statistics page. 

According to the Internet Society an internet shutdown is defined as an intentional disruption of Internet-based communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unavailable, for a specific population, location, or mode of access, often to exert control over the flow of information. Internet shutdowns can happen at a national level, where users across the entire country are unable to access the Internet, or at a subnational (local) level, where mobile and/or fixed Internet access in a state, city, or other localized area is cut off. 

The Internet Society and NetBlocks teamed up to develop a tool to better measure the cost of Internet shutdowns. The tool is called COST (Cost of Shutdown Tool), which is a data-driven online tool that will enable anyone – including journalists, researchers, advocates, policy makers, businesses, and many others – to quickly and easily estimate the economic cost of Internet disruptions.

So many businesses in Uganda now rely on the internet for their operations. Internet shutdowns stalls businesses and government agencies and as a result causes losses. The recent shutdown saw Uganda lose $8,937,735 which is an equivalent of 32,909,851,586 Ugandan Shillings. Shutting down the internet affected payment systems, electronic transfers, internet banking among others. The internet shutdowns froze internet operations. 

There are a couple of questions one should ask themselves. Firstly, What does the internet mean to you? Secondly, is the internet a want or a need ? Thirdly, how can we keep the internet open and secure? And last for this specific subject matter, how do we hold our governments accountable regarding internet censorship. 

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