Internet access restored in Uganda after 5-day blackout

Monday January 18 2021

Internet is back on in Uganda five days after the government ordered service providers to switch it off just hours to last Thursday's general election. 

The shutdown elicited widespread criticism and condemnation against the government.

Many users in Uganda reported partial restoration on Monday, with some tech observers noting that full access was yet to be achieved.

The internet shutdown came after the country’s Communications Commission ordered a service blackout until further notice.

In its letter on the suspension, the agency failed to give reasons for its decision. 


Social media access, however, is reportedly still blocked. But some users are able to bypass the block to access sites such as Facebook and Twitter via VPN (virtual private network).

President Yoweri Museveni said restrictions on social media sites were enforced after a number of supporters of the National Resistance Movement, the country’s ruling party, were blocked from accessing their accounts by Facebook. 

While delivering his address to the nation ahead of the elections last week, the President said Facebook refused to heed appeals by the government to unblock his supporters’ accounts.

“Why would anybody do that? When I heard about that, I told our people to warn them...That social channel you are talking about, if it’s operating in Uganda, it should be used equitably by everybody who wants to use it. If you want to take sides against the NRM, then that group will not operate in Uganda. Uganda is ours, it’s not anybody’s...And I am sure government has closed the social media."

Facebook had in a statement said it shut a number of accounts belonging to Ugandan State officials accused of seeking to manipulate public debate ahead of the elections.

Uganda has been accused of suppressing freedom of expression, as well as cracking down on opposition figures including Bobi Wine.