Mobile internet disrupted in Burkina Faso after shooting of protesters

Network data from NetBlocks confirm a significant disruption to mobile internet connectivity in Burkina Faso from around 10:30 p.m. UTC Saturday 20 November 2021 affecting cellular service. The incident comes amid political unrest and the shooting of protesters by a French military convoy on Saturday.

Metrics corroborate user reports of mobile data disruptions on providers including Orange (AS37577). The data blackout is ongoing as of Monday and is likely to limit the free flow of information online and suppress news coverage of events on the ground.

This class of internet disruption cannot be worked around with the use of circumvention software or VPNs. Fixed-line and wifi services appear largely unaffected by the disruption, although most users are reliant on mobile phones.

What’s happening in Burkina Faso?

Several protesters were injured on Saturday after French soldiers fired shots into a group of civilians, stoking anger against France’s military presence in the country.

Burkina Faso has been facing growing security challenges in recent years. Protesters called for the president to take action or step down earlier in the week week.

What are the authorities saying?

Service providers and the government initially refused to acknowledge the mobile disruption.

However, on Monday 22 November the Ministry of Communication and Relations with Parliament formally acknowledged the shutdown, presenting and order for services to be cut for 96 hours beginning Saturday night. On Wednesday 24 November, the order was extended for a further 96 hours.

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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.


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