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Apply Now: $5,000 Grants to Stop Internet Shutdowns in African Countries

By Wayan Vota on December 7, 2020

internet access shutdown funding

Internet shutdowns are one of the most extreme and draconian censorship tactics that a government can use to control civil discourse. Internet access shutdowns can include full network blackouts, blocking popular social media platforms and messaging apps, and throttling internet speeds.

Major network disruptions massively unravel the socio-political fabric of a country and not only violate citizens’ rights to freedom of expression but also threaten health, safety, and economic security. For example, the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations found that India’s 16,315 hours of intentional Internet downtime between 2012 and 2017 cost the Indian economy $3.04 billion.

Very Real Threat of Internet Shutdowns

These shutdowns are not only occurring in authoritarian contexts but also happening in both transitioning and stable democracies. India is a main purveyor of Internet shutdowns. It even has Internet shutdowns in certain regions during high-stakes school examination to reduce cheating.

These tactics are often used to quell planned or ongoing protests, to prepare for a potentially contested election, or to control coordination around controversial historical or religious events. For example, Chad was offline for more than a year following the government’s contentious move to keep President Idriss Déby in office beyond 2030.

Despite the drawbacks and reputational risks associated with shutting down the internet, shutdowns are on the rise. Access Now has documented a 32% increase in the number of countries using shutdowns as a tactic from 2018 to 2019 alone.

A 2020 global survey by Internews found that 58% of regional or national-level organizations said there has been an internet shutdown in their country in the past year; 61% said another one is either “likely” or “very likely” in the next year. At the same time, advocates do not feel prepared for future shutdowns. Almost half (49%) of the respondents assessed the advocacy capacity in their country as either weak or nonexistent.

$5,000 Grants to Prevent African Internet Shutdowns

Internews OPTIMA’s small grants pool offers funding for the development or enhancement of resources, tools, and guides to better equip advocates in Sub-Saharan Africa to prevent, prepare for and respond to internet shutdowns in their countries.

Sign Up Now to Get New Grant Alerts

Apply now for grants of $1,000 to $5,000 USD each to create of tangible resources that other individuals and groups can use to strengthen their work in either preventing or responding to internet shutdowns. Example project ideas include:

  • Best practices and recommendations on how to respond to a shutdown
  • Resources to improve advocacy with governments and ISPs
  • Guides on using circumvention tools during shutdowns,
  • How to documents for fighting shutdowns in courts
  • Training curricula on predicting, preventing, or responding to an internet shutdown

These resources must be shareable to others in the internet freedom community in Sub-Saharan Africa. Resources for these countries are preferred: Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritania, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Apply Now! Deadline is December 21, 2020

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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4 Comments to “Apply Now: $5,000 Grants to Stop Internet Shutdowns in African Countries”


  2. Our organisation need funds

  3. Kasese Ideal Community Association (KICA) is a not for profit community based organization based in Uganda, Western-Rwenzori Region working on support to vulnerable and disadvantaged children that include HIV/Aids orphans, non-Aids orphans, street kids, children affected by annual river floods that leaves people in a state of agony, and other related cases since 2005.

    We also implement crop agriculture to support our income base and expenditure, we provide skills development and training to meet basic development and livelihood to such needy communities etc. We currently give support to 50 orphans in a population of 250 children at our education center. On top of these needy children, outside support is given.

    The demand is high compared to our income base and tools/equipment to support them. We therefore, feel once we identify any humanitarian compassionate generous organization, we have to increase and address the demand. We seek for your partnership in order to address the high demand of the needy community. We are ready to go by any conditions provided we have secured tools and equipment ESPECIALLY TO SETTLE DOWN OUR USUAL CHALLENGES OF ICT SHORT-DOWN. Kindly give us hands of support.