South Sudanese hit with internet blackout

A mobile subscriber using a smartphone. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

South Sudan experienced an internet blackout for more than 15 hours, which the government described as a technical issue.

Since late Sunday, online users said they were unable to access Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and other online applications and sites. Many users said they were only able to access those sites after resorting to using virtual private networks (VPNs).

“Since yesterday night, I have been unable to get to Facebook and Twitter. its clear something has happened to those platforms, but this will affect online business,” said resident Bida Emmanuel.

But Information Minister Michael Makuei said experts were working to resolve the glitch.

“We have a technical problem that the engineers are working on…It should be clear that it is not a shut down by the government. But it is a technical problem that needs to be addressed. If that fault is addressed, then it will come back.”

Makuei did not give a timeline on when the internet issue would be resolved.

The internet down time coincided with a day when some civil society groups had planned a peaceful mass protest against the government on Monday. The government had warned residents against participating in the planned protests.

On the same day, President Salva Kiir was scheduled to inaugurate a newly created national parliament.