‘Internet’s not water’: Ethiopia Prime Minister defends blackouts

Ethiopia Prime Minister has justified the government’s right to shut down the internet, saying it is done to save lives.

Abiy Ahmed’s press conference on Thursday came after the assassination of the East African nation’s army chief and a regional coup attempt in recent weeks.

“Internet is not water, the internet is not air,” he told journalists in the capital, Addis Ababa on Thursday as he defended the closure of internet services in the wake of a coup attempt in June.

He gave a warning that if people used the internet to incite people to kill fellow citizens and destroy property, then a switch-off could be long term.

Mr Abiy, who has brought in sweeping reforms since coming to power in April last year, said it was better to incur economic losses than the loss of a single life.

The internet and text services were also shut down earlier in June when national school exams were being held to prevent cheating.

The country is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and has the continent’s second-largest population.