Kenya may shut down internet during the general elections slated for August 2017. But The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) chairman, Ben Gituku said that will happen only if the situation gets out of hand.
Other African countries that have had to shut down internet in similar circumstances include Uganda, Ethiopia and DR Congo.
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo ordered that social networks including Facebook and WhatsApp be blocked soon before President Joseph Kabila’s mandate expired.
Political tensions were running high in the country ahead of the constitutional end of President Joseph Kabila’s second and final term on December 20. No elections had been organized and the opposition accused Kabila of seeking to retain power.
A controversial ruling from the Constitutional Court, had said President Kabila could remain in office beyond the end of his mandate.
Ethiopia has frequently shut down the internet during growing protests against the government with the government accusing opposition activists in the diaspora of using Facebook and Twitter to organize protests in the country.
In one such protest at least 55 people died in a stampede at a religious festival in the volatile Oromia region after people started to demand “political freedoms.”
In Uganda attempts by the government to shut down Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, especially on mobile devices, flopped as users resorted to virtual private networks (VPNs) to bypass the blockade to exchange information on voting, tallying and announcement of the country’s last controversial election results.
Political observers said the shutdown was aimed at limiting media scrutiny of the election and signaled the return of a clampdown on civil liberties such as freedom of association, speech and assembly and further gagging of the media.
In Kenya, with rising political temperature, Kenyans are concerned that a repeat of the 2008 ethnic violence could occur. The violence left many people dead, many others wounded and many more homeless. It also led to the prosecution of six prominent Kenyans at the International Criminal Court at the Hague on charges of crimes against humanity.
The cases where thrown out by the court, with the ICC accusing the government of Kenya of non-cooperation.
Kenya’s Communication Authority (CA) has reportedly invested $5.8 million (Sh600 million) in a social media monitoring system to be used during the general elections.