Guinea has been grappling with restricted internet access for the past 40 days. Since November 24, internet and social media access within the country has been limited, with services like WhatsApp also affected. Internet users are compelled to use VPN tools to bypass these restrictions.
This limited internet access has prompted the Association of Guinean Bloggers (Ablogui) to denounce what they term “cyber-censorship” imposed by the state. Amnesty International accuses the transitional authorities of “multiplying violations of the right to freedom of expression.” Beyond the concerns for freedom of expression, restricted internet access is causing considerable economic consequences. Economist and researcher Safayiou Diallo highlights the adverse effects on the state’s tax revenues.
“In 2022, for example, Orange, through its two companies, especially Orange Guinea, contributed over 1000 billion Guinean francs, and Orange Finances Mobiles Guinea contributed over 198 billion Guinean francs. They were far ahead of the mining companies. Taking the case of MTN, 23% of the amount spent on each internet pass inevitably goes back to the state in the form of taxes,” explains Diallo.
Safayiou Diallo further emphasizes the impact on businesses relying on telecommuting, stating, “Many companies use telecommuting. Experience has shown that a person working from home has more opportunities to increase productivity than if that person has to take a vehicle, [due to] all the time spent in traffic to finally reach the company at a somewhat late hour. So if the internet outage persists, we may see a decrease in state tax revenues, but also, it will have a very detrimental impact on the economic growth of 2024.”
The prolonged restriction on internet access not only raises concerns about the democratic space but also poses a significant threat to the country’s economic stability and growth.