Last week, the Togolese nationals were involved in widespread protests against the President, Faure Gnassingbe who is seeking to extend his term of office. As that unfolded, they were greeted with the ruthless clampdown on the Internet.
The subsequent shutting down of the Internet gave the protesters more impetus to up their protests. It is something that has become typical of the regimes in Africa, that whenever they are faced with increasing protests, they resort to slowing internet access or completely shutting it down. This just goes in contravention of some of the fundamental human rights, which include the right to freedom of expression and the right to get access to information.
In Togo last week, it was reported that mobile internet connection was completely blocked. However, Wi-Fi networks were still working. Internet speed was frustratingly and devastatingly slow, in clear attempts to impede communication efforts between activists and other protesters. All of this were apparent attempts to stifle the protests organized against the president, Faure Gnassingbe.
In Togo, the events clearly show the intentions of government. The government wants to bring about a two-year limit, which would increase the current president's stay in power. Gnassingbe has been president since 2005, after taking over from his father who had died after 38 years in power. Opposition politicians in Togo say they will not allow the law to pass as this would create a dynasty that is devoid of the basic democratic tenets in governing the country.
Earlier this year, Africa and the whole world were witness to the three-month total internet shutdown in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon. Being the minority, the people in the English-speaking regions had voiced their concerns as regards their marginalization and unfair treatment they suffer at the hands of Paul Biya's government. This saw the government launching a complete internet shutdown which lasted for a whole three months. In that move, the voices of the affected people were completely cut as their connection to the world at large had been severed.
Last year, the government in Zimbabwe also resorted to the draconian measures of cutting the Internet connection and slowing it down at the height of the protests against Mugabe's regime. State-owned mobile operator cut their network for almost two days. WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter communication were aimed at being slowed down. From that moment, the government in Zimbabwe then began getting serious about crafting a Bill for Cyber Security and Computer Crimes, while they were ignorant of that the previous years because there had been no uprisings.
It is clear that African governments never shy away from repressing and suppressing the people's voices whenever they are faced with resistance from the people. In doing that, they violate fundamental human rights.