Internet shutdown in Uganda starts ahead of 2021 elections as citizens suffer to download apps

As the UG elections inch closer just a few days away, it looks like one of our fears has already come true and that’s the internet shutdown in Uganda. This does not come as a shock because many expected it as one of the strategies to control people’s access to the internet.

TechRafiki has learned that Google PlayStore and AppStore the market places where Android and iPhone users download apps from are not accessible on some networks (MTN, Airtel and Lyca so far tested). YouTube too has joined the list as per our current findings. For one to download an app onto their phones from these app market places or access, they have to first switch on their VPNs and establish a connection in another country.

For now, social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp remain accessible for users that pay the OTT tax and these have not not been shut down yet.

We recently wrote an article with List of VPNs to download ahead of UG elections. and we hope you managed to secure one before the shut down of the app stores.

The internet shutdown in Uganda of 2016

It is not the first time the internet shutdown in Uganda happens. In 2016, on election day no one had access to social media apps like Facebook and WhatsApp. Internet users were left confused and stranded as they were stuck with messages that could not be sent and couldn’t receive any either.

This time around, the talk has been going on for a while as people said they’d be much more prepared. By being more prepared many mean they’re going to download VPN’s to help them get access to the internet that day.

Looks like that strategy might not work as the App Store for iPhone users and Play store for Android users are all down. This has left many wondering what the problem could be as they share their agony on social media.

internet shutdown in Uganda

When one tries to download an app, they’ll receive a message “Unable To Install – Please Try Again” for iOS/iPhone users and for Android users the download process will remain pending as no download will take place as shown in the screenshots below.

It is the similar case for Youtube, the website is not launching via browsers unless the VPN is on but in some cases the app works if one is lucky.

Currently, the only way one can download apps via these web sources is if they had a VPN downloaded before this occurred. Otherwise, this isn’t good news for those who hadn’t already downloaded the Virtual Private Networks.

Also read: List of VPNs to download ahead of UG elections.

Right now, we can only guess the reasons as to why an internet shutdown in Uganda could be happening. It could be random or we can attribute it to a few speculations.

One could be the launch of the UVote app. The recently launched app by NUP is aimed at ensuring transparency on election day by allowing voters to declare the results of candidates from their different polling stations. The app is currently available for Android users only via the playstore or can be downloaded using this LINK from Google drive.

By blocking access to the Play store, this could limit people from downloading the app. Another reason could be to prevent people from downloading VPNs that will give them back door access to the internet in case of a social media shutdown.

Luckily, there’s always a solution especially when it comes to technology. Click here to access an alternative where internet users can download apps amidst this shut down in the meantime. However, it’s only available for Android users as we try to find a probable solution for iPhone users.

If you’re using the following service providers’ networks then you’re most likely already experiencing this problem. The affected networks are MTN, Airtel, and Lyca mobile.

At the moment, UCC Executive Director Irene Kaggwa says she is not aware of the current situation and will give a comment later on. Efforts to get statements from the affected telecom networks are still futile.

We shall keep you posted on how to download any apps you may need for the election season

READ: New International e-passport deadline has been announced.

Stay on top - Get the daily news in your inbox