By Tamara White

On September 21, Freedom Home launched its 2021 Freedom on the Web report, its annual survey and evaluation of web freedom world wide. This report assesses 70 international locations from numerous areas (13 from sub-Saharan Africa) on obstacles to entry, limits on content material, and violations of person rights. The 2021 version finds that, globally, web freedom has been on a decline for the 11th straight yr. Regardless of this nevertheless, Sudan, Gambia, and South Africa all noticed will increase in web freedom since final yr.

In assessing web freedom, the report creates a complete rating primarily based on its evaluation of obstacles to entry, limits on content material, and violations of person rights. Based mostly on these scores of 0-100, Freedom Home then assigns rankings of free (scores 70-100), partly free (scores 40-69), and never free (scores 0-39).

Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, and Ethiopia have been the area’s highlights on this report. Actually, Uganda noticed one of many biggest web freedom deteriorations, with its rating dropping from 56 out of 100 to 49 since final yr. Freedom Home attributes this decline to authorities forces implementing stricter web restrictions throughout current political occasions and crises, together with a five-day shutdown throughout January’s elections. One other issue within the decline of Uganda’s rating is the price of web entry: Web entry, particularly on mobile telephones, prices 5,000 shillings (about $45) per 1GB, making it unaffordable for a lot of residents. Regardless of these challenges, Uganda nonetheless ranks larger on the checklist than Rwanda, Sudan, and Ethiopia—the three sub-Saharan international locations categorized as “not free” within the report.

Determine 1. Sub-Saharan Africa Freedom on the Web rankings 2021

Supply: Freedom on the Web Report 2021, Freedom Home.

Rwanda, which the report scored higher than nearly all African international locations when it comes to entry, nonetheless obtained an total rating of 38 out of 100, largely because of limits on content material. Based on the report, the Rwandan authorities restricts content material that strays from the federal government’s official narrative. Freedom Home additionally discovered that the federal government has and continues to suppress political commentary by way of surveillance, arrest, and intimidation, particularly in opposition to journalists, activists, and opposition leaders.

Sudan obtained a complete rating of 33 out of 100, a three-point enhance from final yr. Sudan’s low rating is basically because of limits on entry. Actually, web penetration in Sudan may be very low: Solely about 31 p.c of the inhabitants was utilizing the web as of January 2021, possible because of unreliable electrical energy provide. Low entry just isn’t the one cause for the nation’s low rating: Web customers proceed to face harassment and intimidation from the federal government for his or her on-line content material.

The bottom-scoring nation within the area was Ethiopia, with a complete rating of 27 out of 100. Like many different international locations within the area, a lot of its low rating is because of obstacles to entry, for which it obtained solely four out of 25 factors. Certainly, the nation struggles with unreliable electrical energy, an issue that has been exacerbated by battle within the area. Actually, the battle has impacted different points of the rating: The report states that for the reason that begin of the current battle, Ethiopian residents have skilled larger restrictions in human rights on-line.

For extra on Africa and the web see, “Nigeria’s twitter ban is a misplaced precedence” and “Ethiopia, human rights and the web.”

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