Internet cut across Guinea ahead of elections

Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory confirm that internet has been cut across the Republic of Guinea as of 8:00 p.m. UTC, ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for Sunday, 22 March 2020.

Update: Social media has been blocked in Guinea as of Saturday evening. See new report for details.

Update: Some connectivity has returned after a near-total blackout lasting approximately two hours, although it remains unclear how much access is restored and whether connectivity will be sustained.

Technical measurements show all six networks in the West African country including leading operator Orange have shut down, with national connectivity now at 12% of ordinary levels. Cellular and fixed-line networks are similarly affected.

Subsea cable repair works had originally been scheduled to coincide with parliamentary elections this weekend were widely condemned by observers and rights monitors, on the basis of their impact to the democratic process and transparency.

However, hours before the cut on Friday, GUILAB, Guinea’s telecommunication infrastructure operator, assured the public that maintenance work would be postponed until after elections.

Users who were able to contact the outside after the cut expressed concern over the situation, which comes amid regional efforts to contain COVID-19 as Guinea faces its second confirmed case.

The near-total outage comes after a series of smaller daily cuts at around midnight over the last three days.

GUILAB, Guinea’s telecommunication infrastructure operator, which administers the ACE cable network, assured the public outages would be postponed until after Sunday’s elections (Translated to English from original French document)


Methodology

NetBlocks diffscans, which map the IP address space of a country in real time, show internet connectivity levels and corresponding outages. Purposeful internet outages generally have a distinct network pattern used by NetBlocks to determine and attribute the root cause of an outage, a process known as attribution which follows detection and classification stages.

A summary of data visualizations used in this report:

  • Network Connectivity (National): Internet providers and networks serving the affected region are visualized in a stacked time-series histogram to identify the start and end times of an internet shutdown event. Scales on the y-axis are adjusted to match localized maxima while minima indicate periods when networks became unreachable. The x-axis represents Universal Coordinated time (GMT+0).
    • Standard: Connectivity levels on the y-axis correspond directly to the observed number of reachable connections, as with National Connectivity charts.

NetBlocks is a civil society group working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance. Independent and non-partisan, NetBlocks strives for an open and inclusive digital future for all.

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