AIS 2019 Uganda Hackathon in Progress

The Cost of Internet Shutdowns: Uganda, January 2021

Picture of Susannah Gray
Director Communications, Internet Society
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January 29, 2021

On 13 January, ahead of the Ugandan 2021 General Elections, our data sources began showing evidence of Internet disruption in Uganda signaling that a wide scale outage was underway. Over 17.5 million Internet subscribers in the country and countless business, services and educational institutions were affected.    

Prior to the shutdown, ReutersNYTimes, and AccessNow had reported that orders had been issued by the Ugandan government to limit citizens’ access to social media platforms. Traffic and IP prefix visibility began to get back to previous levels around five days later on 18 January. The Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST) estimates that this five day shutdown cost the Ugandan economy around US$9 million.

But the economic costs associated with shutdowns and other artificial Internet limitations are not only felt by corporations and businesses — they also affect people’s opportunities and livelihoods. Andrew Sullivan, the Internet Society’s President and CEO, caught up with the BCC’s Aubrey Brown to discuss the long lasting effects of Internet disruptions on the economy, society and on infrastructure development.

More information:

  • Find out more about the January 2021 shutdown in Uganda here.
  • Learn more about Internet Shutdowns and check for disruptions currently in progress around the world here.
  • Read the Internet Society’s position statement on Internet Shutdowns here.  

Photo (c) Internet Society/Victor Ndonnang: participants work together during the Africa Internet Summit (AIS) 2019 Hackathon, in Kampala, Uganda .