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Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory confirm that internet has been cut across much of Somalia with high impact to Mogadishu from 10:30 a.m. local time (7:30 a.m. UTC) on Sunday 26 July 2020. The incident is ongoing as of Monday afternoon.

⚠️Confirmed: Internet shutdown across much of #Somalia as parliament votes to remove Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire over lack of democratic elections; real-time metrics show connectivity below ~30% of ordinary levels with high impact to #Mogadishu

📰 https://t.co/Dqtp0RXkSB pic.twitter.com/QiV145Ib7D

— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) July 26, 2020

Real-time metrics show national connectivity levels at just 30% of ordinary levels, with most impact recorded in capital city Mogadishu. The cut remains in place as of Sunday afternoon, limiting news coverage of events.

Somalia’s parliament yesterday removed prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire from his post in a vote of no confidence. 170 of 178 MPs backed the motion against Khaire citing a failure to transition the country towards democratic elections.

However, as the incident continued through Sunday, the European Union and United States Embassy issued statements condemning the forced resignation as a setback for Somalia’s constitutional foundations.

@US2Somalia is concerned over irregularities in today’s no-confidence vote. It is a setback for reforms #Somalia has pursued. Only path forward to timely, peaceful, implementable federal elections is consultation & constructive dialogue. (1/2) –> Read Full Statement

— U.S. Embassy Mogadishu, Somalia (@US2SOMALIA) July 25, 2020

Recent developments in #Somalia entail a serious disrespect for the constitutional foundations and represent a setback for the country and the confidence of the European Union in the progress of Somalia. #AUEUhttps://t.co/uw0tC7iNd5

— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) July 26, 2020

The ongoing incident has nation-scale, non-total impact with indications of an intentional blackout affecting cellular and fixed-line networks. The disruption has not been technically attributed to any international technical outage or cyber-attack.

“After learning that the government had failed in its promise to prepare a clear plan that paves the way for one-person-one-vote elections in 2021 … parliament undertook a vote of no confidence against the government and its prime minister, Hassan Ali Khaire,” Mohamed Mursal, the Speaker of Parliament said in a statement to the press.

A preliminary analysis of sub-sea cable networks shows no ongoing international cable cut that could cause the disruption. Most, but not all, of the country’s leading business and residential service providers are affected.

Sources tell NetBlocks that the political climate remains unclear in part due to the telecommunications blackout. Somalia’s internet cut follows a multi-week internet shutdown imposed by authorities in neighbouring Ethiopia.

Has Somalia lost internet access before?

A review of historic data shows no record of localized nation-scale telecommunications blackouts since systematic record-keeping began. The country has experienced outages due to international cable incidents, which affect several countries along the east coast of Africa.

However, a sub-sea cable outage affecting a single country, while technically possible, has not been reported in recent years. Despite telecoms operators claims that windy conditions might have caused Somalia’s internet to cut out, coastal weather records for Mogadishu show calm conditions and lower-than-average wind speeds at the time the disruption came into effect.

Analysis: There is no indication of an international subsea cable outage impacting #Somalia, and occurrences of cable cuts that affect a single country’s internet connectivity for an extended period of time are exceptionally rare 📊

📰 https://t.co/Dqtp0RXkSB pic.twitter.com/9kFlQBDfCa

— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) July 26, 2020

A number of low-impact regional outages in the NetBlocks dataset in 2018 and 2019 are understood to be related to security operations. The impact and extent of the present disruption is notable, as is its timing in view to the constitutional crisis.


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.