By Norman Isaac Mwambazi
The days from January 13 to 15, 2021 will be remembered as when there was absolutely no internet activity coming from Uganda because the government decided to completely shut it down, citing security reasons.
On Monday, January 18, 2021, the internet was restored in pieces, because social media sites remained blocked as the government sought to limit discussions of the general election results have gone on to be highly contested.
Since then, Ugandans, including government officials have been extensively reliant on using Virtual Private Network (VPN) applications on their devices so that they can access social media platforms.
This has had implications. First, authorities reportedly said it was illegal to use social media and sought to find ways of blocking VPNs but their efforts were fruitless.
Secondly, the average internet user had to incur extra data costs while using VPN, and thirdly, people who were locked out before getting the much-prized VPN apps have been off social media since then. This meant that if they were running any businesses online, they have been stalled for almost a month.
There is good news. Today, Wednesday, February 10, 2021, Peter Ogwang, the State Minister for Information, Communication Technology, and National Guidance has announced that internet has been fully restored and Ugandans are free to access all sites that had been previously blocked.
However, he called on social media users to use it constructively.
“Internet and social media services have been fully restored. We apologize for the inconveniences caused, but it was for the security of our country. Let us be constructive, not destructive consumers/users of social media,” Ogwang tweeted today.
It should be noted that due to the high unemployment rate among the youths in Uganda, they have become extensively reliant on social media to market their small businesses and start-ups so clearly, blocking it cost them.
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