Internet access in Uganda restored
The digitally isolated country of Uganda is now back on the World Wide Web after the government restored the internet almost one week after it was throttled down.
Ugandans immediately rushed to social media, which they still have to access via a virtual private network, to catch up with their friends and families are several days of ‘radio silence.’
WhatsApp groups sprang to life flooded by relevant messages and pending forwards which had hang in the system for several days.
E-mails started streaming in and previously scheduled zoom calls could not be accessed.
There was a palpable joy in the voices of those I spoke to immediately they realized that they could go online, as if they had just been released from a digital prison after a 1-week stint.
The word ‘ Bush’ started trending almost immediately on twitter with some Ugandans jokingly saying that they felt like they had just returned to civilisation after a stint in the bush of internet.
Ugandans on twitter also known as UOT vented their frustrations about being off-line for several days.
Welcome back from the bush. When is our President-elect at Magere swearing in?
— سعدية (@_Shadear_) January 18, 2021
All along going to the bush (my nsiko) meant no internet…..I should have seen this coming. Anyways welcome back #Uganda_mu_nsiko
— arinaitwe (@arinabujara) January 18, 2021
The government had been under pressure to restore the internet with some wondering why it had taken so long to do so after this election whilst in 2016 it had been restored immediately after the results were announced.
A local journalist told us that CEO’s of leading banks were worried that if the internet was not back online by Tuesday then their float would ran out and they would have no way to replenish it electronically meaning no money for their customers.
Digital taxi-hailing operators couldn’t access their apps to pick and drop customers.
One can only imagine what was happening at sensitive workplaces like hospitals or even the airport where passengers could not access their e-tickets.
Media houses could only reach their correspondents across the country via telephone and footage had to be manually sent to the studios.
Getting a COVID test meant returning to the laboratory two days later for results.
The financial loss is hard to calculate but according to 4-time Presidential candidate Kiiza Besigye it runs into millions of dollars.
Uganda’s Prime Minsiter Dr Ruhakana Ruganda told a local television station that the internet shutdown was hard to avoid because there were those that would’ve taken advantage of the political tension to cause violence during this election period.
The conversation online is slowly gravitating to the just concluded general election with analysis of results, the performance of the electoral commission and other electoral matters dominating the conversation.
Whatever happens next however this internet shutdown is one that will not be forgotten quickly by a nation that found itself shut off from the rest of the world for several days.