‘No timeline’ for restoring internet to Tigray: Ethiopia minister | Internet News

In a ceasefire agreement signed earlier this month, Ethiopia committed to restoring basic services in the Tigray region.

There is no “timeline” for restoring internet access in the embattled Tigray region, the Associated Press reported a senior Ethiopian government official as saying.

Tigray’s internet service will be restored along with telephone and electricity services, although no timeline has been set for those goals, Belete Molla, Ethiopia’s minister of innovation and technology, said Tuesday at the annual Internet UN Governance Forum in Addis Ababa.

Tigray, home to more than 5 million people, has been largely without internet, telecommunications and banking since fighting broke out between troops and federal government forces led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in November 2020. .

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A ceasefire agreement between the warring sides was signed in South Africa earlier this month. It assured the Ethiopian government to restore basic services in Tigray, but the loss of communication has not yet been removed.

Renewed fighting in August halted the delivery of aid to Tigray, which is in the throes of a humanitarian crisis. Aid has now started arriving in the region, but the World Food Program said last week that access to parts of Tigray remained “restricted”.

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With the Tigray blackout still in place, the UN’s decision to hold its flagship event on internet access in Ethiopia this week has drawn criticism. This year’s conference aims to take steps towards “universal, affordable and meaningful connectivity”, especially in Africa where 60 percent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people are offline.

Ethiopia has shut down the internet at least 22 times since 2016, according to internet rights group Access Now. The blackout affecting Tigray “is the longest uninterrupted blackout in the world”, said Brett Solomon, executive director of Access Now.

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Aid workers and rights groups say the communications shutdown has hindered the delivery of aid to Tigray and exacerbated human rights abuses by fostering a culture of impunity for armed actors. UN investigators allege abuses, including murders, rape and torture.

Speaking at the forum’s opening ceremony on Tuesday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appeared to defend the closure of Tigray, saying the internet “supports the spread of disinformation as Ethiopia faces an armed rebellion in northern part of the country.”

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