Shs32.9 billion lost in Uganda’s internet shutdown in 2021

It is believed that almost shs32.9 billion is at stake due to Uganda’s internet shutdown in 2021. As the entire country was denied access to the internet though it is under investigation how a tiny percentage managed to stay online during this crisis, Uganda now has to incur the huge financial loss from the past few days.

Five days don’t seem like many until the plug has been pulled on your internet access for that long. This was the scene since mid-last week all through the weekend for many Ugandans as their phones and other devices finally got that long-awaited break.

Read also: Fintechs in Uganda could lose about shs666 billion because of internet shutdown.

The said security measure that the country took during the pre and post-election period has cost it billions of money in only 5 days according to the NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool. The NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool is an internet tool that uses various indicators from sources like WorldBank data to estimate the economic impact of an internet disruption or app restriction.

Internet blackouts have become a norm for many countries in the world that have adopted this as a means to control citizens especially in times when there is a lot of political tension. An atmosphere brought about by the elections in the past week is notably one you can call quite tense.

It was made tenser by the fact that many anticipated an internet shutdown that they thought would last only a day just like it was on the day of the 2016 general elections. The government shocked many as it cut off access to the internet for 5 days saying that this was a security measure to prevent online mobilization of rioters that intended to disrupt the peace.

How much was Uganda’s internet shutdown in 2021 worth?

Uganda's internet shutdown in 2021 COST estimates by NetBlocksOrg

The government has lost an estimated shs32.9 billion ($8.9 million) due to Uganda’s internet shutdown in 2021 that lasted only a few days. There has been a recent spike in the number of online businesses because of the ongoing pandemic that has posed many restrictions. Various businesses and SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises) were cut off from their customers and had no reliable means of communication like social media apps because of this blackout, as a result, many have lost a lot of money in the past days.

Social media apps are feeling the heat too as they remain switched off like Facebook which is losing shs1.6 billion for everyday it remains switched off. Such applications earn through running advertisements on their platforms but seeing as the apps are still down in Uganda, people are unable to pay for ads to run on these platforms in Uganda.

Also read: WhatsApp privacy policy update clarified after heavy backlash.

As e-payment becomes a widely used method for many Ugandans to pay their bills and carry out other transactions, it also requires internet to work. This came to a halt too as money could not flow across various channels. Businesses that depend on electronic transactions entirely were badly affected including Fintechs that deliver financial services across the internet.

In 2016, Uganda lost about shs7.3 billion ($2 million) for every day that it shut down the internet. The directive was issued by the government on grounds that it was trying to stop the spread of propaganda that would disrupt the elections. Compared to Uganda’s internet shutdown in 2021, the shutdown of 2016 was not as economically harmful since it lasted only a day and that was on the day of general elections.

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