MTN Group

Uganda turns off internet "until further notice"

14 January 2021 | Melanie Mingas

Cover

Uganda has doubled down on security concerns by blocking more areas of its communications networks.

The country, which goes to the polls today to elect a new president, ordered its ISPs to block all social media sites on 12 January.

Through a letter from its regulator, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), ISPs were specifically ordered to unplug services for media platforms and messaging apps and citizens confirmed to news organisations that they were unable to access services such as Facebook and WhatsApp.

The following evening – hours before the country headed to the polls – MTN Group confirmed it and other telcos had been ordered by the communications regulator to suspend all internet gateways "until further notice".

NetBlocks said last night via its Twitter account that the country "was experiencing a nationwide blackout" from 19:00 hours local time.

While it was originally hoped communications would be restored after the 14 January election, there are now fears that may not be the case.

However, Nompilo Morafo, MTN’s group executive for corporate affairs, told Reuters that the firm was committed to "limit the duration" of the disruption.

Morafo was quoted as saying: “I can confirm that MTN Uganda and all Licensed Telecommunication Operators in the country have received a directive from Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to implement a suspension of the operation of all internet Gateways and associated access points.

“MTNU will continue engaging with the relevant stakeholders to limit the duration of the service disruption,” Morafo added.