Earlier this week, the Zimbabwe government decided to shut down the internet in the African nation. This decision was precipitated by a governmental fear over increasing street protests. However, this attempt to quell national unrest ended up resulting in the exact opposite.
Controversial internet shutdown paralyzes national economy
Specifically, Zimbabwe has been ravaged by widespread local unrest the past week. The catalyst? A controversial decision to increase the prices of petrol and diesel by a massive 150 percent.
Citizens of Zimbabwe have since this voiced their dissatisfaction with this decision through a series of protests and demonstrations. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp have been integral in organizing these events.
This is not the first time that social media has played a vital role in organizing protests against different regimes. The Arab Spring in 2011 was the first time social media contributed to forcefully bring down governments, and it seems that Zimbabwe’s government was adamant to avoid a similar fate.
As such, mobile network and internet service providers suspended web services in the African nation on January 15th. However, it is now clear that this ban has done little to quell protests.
In fact, more than three people have reportedly lost their lives in increasingly violent protests. Moreover, the African nation’s major cities have been ravaged by demonstrations, in which shops have been looted and destroyed and police stations have been set aflame.
Traditional payment methods and cryptocurrencies alike rendered unusable
As such, it would appear that the governmental-led shutdown of the internet has led to immensely worse consequences. The national economy has effectively been disabled – however, this was not caused by the protestors, rather, it was the work of the government’s actions.
This internet shutdown has affected shops and businesses nationwide, and has rendered traditional bank transfers impossible. Furthermore, the inability to access the internet has also made all Bitcoin-related transactions unfeasible.
The economic effects of the government’s actions seem to have dramatically misjudged, as business operations have largely collapsed in the African nation. Not only have cryptocurrency transfers and traditional bank transfers been compromised, so have electronic transactions.
In addition to this, a preexisting liquidity crisis in the country has already led citizens towards alternative means of exchange, such as cryptocurrencies or other cashless alternatives such as bank cards.
All of these payment systems have now been rendered moot, due to the government’s actions. It remains to be seen how all of this will ultimately play out – but it already seems plain that the government’s fear of economic turmoil has caused exactly that.
Image Source: “Flickr”
Rasmus Pihl is a writer for Toshi Times by day and an avid follower of the blockchain industry by night. Rasmus holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the Gothenburg School of Business, Economics, and Law and runs a Swedish marketing consulting firm. Moreover, when he isn’t writing for Toshi Times, traveling, working or changing the world in some other capacity, Rasmus is more than likely caught up in postgraduate studies.