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Eswatini: MTN confirms role in internet blackout

MTN confirms that it switched off internet services in ESwatini in line with a directive from the government there.

MTN has confirmed that it is responsible for the internet blackout in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) citing the directives of the ESwatini's government as its reason. The internet has been shut down in ESwatini since Tuesday, creating a communication blackout in the country.

The cellphone group said MTN ESwatini and other cellphone operators received a directive from the ESwatini Communications Commission on 29 June to suspend access to social media and online platforms until further notice.

The directive comes on the heels of the violent protests calling for the abolishment of the monarchical system of government in ESwatini. MTN said MTN ESwatini had implemented the directive after it carefully assessed it and in line with its license conditions and the group's digital human rights due diligence framework.

MTN has also confirmed that it has been taken to court in ESwatini to force it to restore the internet service in the country. According to News24, the court application was brought by the Institute for Democracy and Leadership (Ideal), along with various youth organisations.

"MTN ESwatini continues to engage with relevant stakeholders to limit the duration of the service disruption and is reviewing the details of the court applications in consultation with its advisers." MTN group

The application named MTN, along with state-owned Eswatini Mobile and ESwatini Telecommunications Corporation. MTN was being sued, along with the acting Prime Minister's office, the police and the auditor-general.

ESwatini in focus

GDP: $3.962 billion in 2020 compared to $4.472 billion in 2019

Population: 1,160,164 in 2020 compared to 1,148,133 in 2019

GDP per capita: $3,415 in 2020 compared to $3,894 in 2019