Nigerians fear an internet shutdown but power cuts and fuel shortages hurt more amid protests

Since the beginning of Nigeria’s anti-police brutality protests, tagged #EndSARS, there has been widespread suspicion among the young people engaged in the online and offline demonstrations that the national government would shut down internet access.

In many ways, the fears could be described as unfounded because there has never been a widespread national government-mandated internet shutdown in Nigeria. But the trend across the continent has seen a spike in internet shutdowns in response to sustained anti-government protests.

From nearby neighbors in Cameroon and Chad to Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, African governments have resorted to trying to stifle uprising or political opposition by blocking social media apps such as WhatsApp and Twitter or using blunt force to shut down the internet altogether. These governments have done this even though it comes at a not insignificant cost to their own economies. Internet and social media shutdowns were estimated to cost African economies over $2 billion in 2019.

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