Skype is illegal in Ethiopia?

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“Ethio Telecom tarnishing the nation’s image”

04 June 2011

By Anko Zuta, Blogger of De Birhan Blogspot


One of the funniest quotes that I have read within the past week was a mocking reinterpretation of Ethio Telecom Corporation, the sole state owned telecom provider. Originally the motto would have been like “Connecting Ethiopia to the Future”, however, frustrated due to the incapacity and service bottlenecks of the Corporation, some changed the motto to “Disconnecting Ethiopia from the Future”. Nice one. I think the Corporation isn’t only disconnecting us but also damaging our already tarnished image. In every social media or mainstream media, the foreign community living in Ethiopia complain about the disappointingly slow Internet connections and restrictions. So let me add one more motto ‘Ethio Telecom: mumps over goitre (be’enkert lay joro degef): tarnishing the image of Ethiopia’. Annoyed by these problems of Ethio Telecom, someone (from our neighbouring country in the South) had in fact ignorantly concluded saying, ‘everything in Ethiopia sucks’.

Another one comments this on facebook “…Ethiopia has already one of the most expensive internet services in the world and those suckers make it even more expensive. At the moment I pay for 2GB evdo monthly 465birr – with this new tariff 2GB will cost 500birr. Sorry, but those who are responsible for this belong to jail and nowhere else … How should this country become a middle income country by 2025 when a simple volume based 2GB internet access costs more than an average monthly income? (Source: World bank – year 2009 Ethiopian gni per capita 330USD) Please let us fight for fixed prices on Internet access instead of fixed prices on Beer.

God forgive them both!

When I was in Addis Abeba and if I had to check my e-mail, sitting for a minimum of 7minutes to sign in is a must. And if the horoscope of the connection didn’t meet, you might have to wait for solid 20minutes just to sign in your e-mail. You pay 20cent per minute to use Internet in Ethiopia at least in my days some five years ago. So you would spend hours and dozens of Birr before you finalise sending messages and sign out. Although, the Corporation tried to reorganise its administration and management with the introduction of high tech telecom facilities such us Fibber optics and SEACOM, its service has gone from bad to worse. There is one main artificial handicap in this mess i.e. politics. With the paranoia of losing power and dominance, the ruling party/government, does tenaciously bans the privatisation of the sector, blocks all forms of free online media, filters e-mails, monitors communications, slows speed thus making it one of the richest state owned corporations followed by the runner up Metals Engineering Corporation. This has been said and reported over and over again; refer CPJ’s recent report, The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors.

Last week these issues have come to my attention:

Even though SEACOM , a privately funded venture which built, owns, and operates a submarine fibre-optic cable connecting communication carriers in south and east Africa, had signed an agreement to supply the former, Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) with international broadband fibre connectivity via a backhaul link through Djibouti with $1.5 billion in March 2010, internet and Telecom issues continued to be a nightmare.

The Google url, “Blospot.com’’ has been blocked in Ethiopia. Thus any type of blogging from health, food, society, life, and politics to freedom of expression is blocked. I also learnt that my own blog under the keyword “De Birhan” has been blocked thus when my readers search for my blog this is (server/page not available) the message they get.

bit.ly , the URL shortening service has also been blocked. You can’t either install it or open it. Bloggers and interested individuals in the Diaspora, who send items via bit.ly also can’t get their message across.

Downloading Skype has been difficult and using it is illegal. Especially Internet cafes don’t allow you to use Skype in their Cafes.

Making the service extremely expensive and luck of the haves. The broadband given to customers has a limited for example the mostly given bandwidth is 4GB bandwidth at 700 birr and if you want to use/download more than you would be mercilessly charged. We better not talk about filling ‘balances’ for mobile Internet that even is ‘crappy’. Conversely in Kenya 8MBps costs 900 Birr. Longer period to send SMS texts, mobile network interruption, failure, incorrect indications like ‘The number you dialled can’t be reached at the moment’ while the person is besides you, are some of the most common problems in relation to mobile telephone.

Internet customers who phone the internet technical support team of Ethio Telecom recount that the answers they often get from the technical team itself is ‘we ourselves don’t have internet connection ’.


In this highly interconnected world, where every economic, social and political activity and development has been run by the core role of ICT, the Development Plans of the government and the Nation’s progress floats as doubtable gimmick.

And Ethio Telecom please stop representing us negatively!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Basicllay what is the waustion of FREEDOM?
    I heaed on Sheger Fm- a lbeation force freed a certian country and a certain lady in was walking in the asphalt/main road.When told by a traffic Police to walk on the pavement – she said we are FREE now so i can walk on the main road in the middle of the cars–that is FREEDOM for this lady and What is it for you? Access to an unlimited internet connection ?

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