“We have never seen such crowd,” Claus Steiner, general manager of Hilton Addis Ababa, said. The German-born hotel manager, who recently moved from Seychelles Hilton, seems surprised to see such a large number of guests visiting his Hotel.
However, these guests were there for one purpose – internet access. Though there was a nationwide shutdown of internet access, Hilton was one of the small number of places that people can access the internet.
The lobby of the hotel was almost full with people scrambling to get an access. Yet again, its business center was congested with a long line of people waiting for their turn. Unlike Hilton, many businesses have been paralyzed throughout the week as they have not been able to do their activities. And this is the result of an unprecedented action by the government to shutdown internet access.
This is not the first time that Ethiopia is experiencing such a series of internet blackout. Last year, following a wide political unrest in Amhara and Oromia regional states, Ethiopia have experienced the same trend. In fact, social media was very instrumental which finally forced the government to block it. Last year, it was reported that US-based activists were said to be behind the leak of national exam papers before the official exam date.
These activists have then leaked the exam papers on Facebook. By that time, around 246, 452 grade 12 students sat for the national exam and 1,029,782 grade 10 students took higher education leaving exam.
The government has spent close to 250 million birr for the whole preparation of the exam. The leaks have created havoc across the nation. The government was forced to prepare a second exam. So far no one was held accountable for the leak. This time around the government has decided to cut the internet access without any prior notification which resulted in a wide outcry across the country.