Getnet Assefa shuffled uneasily in his office seat and wondered aloud why he couldn’t connect to the internet on his laptop.
It was mid-morning on Tuesday (June 11), and even though he didn’t know it yet, it was the beginning of the latest days-long internet cutoff. Authorities in Ethiopia disrupted connectivity nationwide to prevent students from cheating in national exams. Social media platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram were restricted, SMS text messaging disabled, leaving banks, businesses and tech startups left in a quandary.
From where shall I begin? My six hour jail time in Juja Police station, my dramatic door to door salesman experience with Kenyan Universities, or how the Ethiopian Government officially advises its travelling citizens to buy dollar from the black market instead of providing it through its commercial banks? Though it’s customary to follow the chronological order, I think I will start from the middle.
Nairobi, adorned with the dying sun’s reddish light, looked a little less scary this time. On my first visit in 2016, I was so startled at the site of the city’s monstrous traffic jam; the entire freeway from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the city centre, with hundreds of cars stuffed, looked like a graveyard built for cars in the middle of a swamp.