Ethiopia Tops Africa in Internet Censorship

In today's information age, internet access becomes a vital component toward's national development. With internet access, virtually anyone can educate themselves given they are literate. Moreover, the cyber world introduces people to different cultures, breaks boundaries, distributes information and plays a key role in globalization.

Yet with all its benefits, internet access for the majority of Ethiopians remains allusive as it did since its introduction. Even those who can afford to go to Internet cafés in Addis Ababa quickly realize the heavy handed role Prime Minster Meles Zenawi plays in censoring websites critical of his authoritarian regime.

With an internet penetration rate of 0.5%, Ethiopia continues to have the second lowest internet penetration rate in Africa. Since the sole provider of internet service is provided by the state-owned Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation, internet access for those who can afford it has become a great tool for Zenawi's regime to monitor and intimidate dissidents.

Because of these repressive internet conditions set up by Zenawi's regime, Ethiopian youths have been forced to play a cat and mouse game, where they come up with crafty ways of beating Ethiopia's censorship by using TOR and proxy sites to visit blocked Ethiopian web pages.

In addition to having Africa's most censored and monitored Internet service, a report published by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) discloses Ethiopia has the world's second most expensive fixed broadband services. All these factors, including poverty, come together to make Ethiopia a black hole for Internet access.