Internet connectivity in Sudan has been blacked out, allegedly by the government. Schools in the capital city, Khartoum, have also been shutdown for a month following protests over the government’s decision to cut a number of fuel-related subsidies doubling the price of fuel in the country.
The government of Sudan announced that it has decided to cut the subsidies on a number of fuel products as part of its economic reform programme. Announcing the ministerial committee decision to cut subsidies, the Sudanese Media Center announced the new prices of fuel products as: “a gallon of benzene increases from SDG12.5 to SDG21 and gasoline from SDEG8 to SDG14 per gallon,” noting that the government will keep subsidising other commodities including wheat and sugar, and it will increase government employees’ salaries and keep paying the 150 Sudanese Pounds (340 South African Rands) social grant paid to poor households.
The announcement sparked widespread protests starting in Gezira, south of Khartoum. Protesters reportedly blockaded roads with burning tires and pipes and attacked police stations, power and gas stations, banks, shops and private property.
Internet monitoring company Renesys claimed, in a blog post, that the internet blackout has affected the whole country and that it is the largest country blackout since Eqypt’s blackout of January 2011. The company’s Doug Madory wrote on Wednesday: “A few hours ago, we observed a total Internet blackout in Sudan and, as we publish this blog, the Internet remains largely unavailable. By count of impacted networks, it is the largest national blackout since Egypt disconnected itself in January 2011”. ABC News quoted Madory saying the blackout could be “a government-directed thing”.