Internet disruption continues in Ethiopia

Spare a thought for those of us trying to use the internet in Ethiopia.

It isn’t great at the best of times.  When it went down during the rainy season I rang technical support and was told that “the firewall has flooded”.  Apparently there is a single computer through which the entire nation’s traffic passes (or, that day, doesn’t pass).  The authorities block some websites (including blogspot.com, nazret.com, and skype.com) though they say they don’t, and they block Skype.  The bandwidth is always limited, but it is also frustrtingly unpredictable. Some days it will be OK, others terrible.  

According to internet world statistics, there are just 300 broadband internet users (as of March 2008) in Ethiopia; and fewer than 300,000 internet subscribers in total.

And now this:

Internet and telephone traffic between the Middle East and Europe will continue to be disrupted until Jan. 4 after a repaired submarine cable in the Mediterranean Sea suffered more damage, France Telecom SA said.

We’ve had very limited internet since December 19th, when the three underwater cables linking Egypt to Europe were cut by an ship’s anchor.  Apparently it was working on December 24th and 25th (I was away from Addis) when it was damaged again by an underwater earthquake.  

Let’s hope that things get better from January 4th.

5 comments on “Internet disruption continues in Ethiopia”

  1. Today is July 4 and the connection is a little bit better but I don’t think it will be stable, and by the way Janora Technologies(in cooperation with the chinese company ZTE) is posting advertisements that show data cards capable of connecting your laptop to the net at 2.4 Mbps.

  2. @AK – Thanks. I’ve heard a bit about the data cards but I have not yet met anyone that has one. Do you, and is it working? Is it easy to configure? How does the charging work? And where can I get one?

    Owen

  3. I would like any update you have on Internet connection in Ethiopia. I am going there in April and will need to be in regular contact by email with a client. Have things gotten any better in terms of Internet connection. I will probably not be bringing my computer–are there cyber-cafés available around the country? Thanks for whatever help you can give.

    1. Hi Nancy – The internet connection is working in Addis Ababa now. The bandwidth is not fast enough to watch U-Tube or download large files, but it is fine for email and webmail. You can also get wireless modems for your laptop to use around town or a 3G sim card for your blackberry (but I believe these only work in Addis Ababa so far). Details elsewhere on this site. Outside Addis there are internet cafes in the big towns (though often you will be using a shared dial-up connection so the speed is not great).

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Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and