On Thursday morning, the Khartoum District Court issued a ruling ordering Sudan’s three main internet providers to restore internet service to all users in the country. In response, the Telecommunications and Post Regulatory Authority however, stated in a circular that the internet shut-down remains in force until further notice.
The court ruling today was the second one this week that ordered the return of internet services to the customers. On Tuesday, a Khartoum judge directed MTN, Zain, and Sudani, the country’s major providers, to restore services, in a lawsuit brought by eight complainants on behalf of the Sudanese Consumer Protection Association. The internet was subsequently restored to these eight people only.
Yasir Mirghani, head of the Consumer Protection Association, told Radio Dabanga’s Sudan Today programme yesterday, that they consider the refusal to restore the internet “a deception of the law,” and added that they intend “to submit a request to issue arrest warrants against the directors of the telecommunications companies in case the new ruling is not implemented by Sunday.”
Following yesterday’s ruling however, the Telecommunications and Post Regulatory Authority issued a statement saying the internet shut-down remains in force until further notice.
The statement refers to the original order of the “Transitional Military Council” on October 25, the day army commander and head of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan seized power, and decided to “temporarily shut down the internet services in all parts of the country, [..] to preserve the unity of the country and the security of the country against [!] the challenges the country is facing”.
Mirghani said that the Khartoum District Court will consider the case lodged by the Consumer Protection Association on the damages caused by the Internet blackout. For this reason, he called on all internet users to individually submit compensation requests to Judge Tarig Abdellatif at the Khartoum District Court.
Activists in Khartoum complained to Radio Dabanga about the great impact of the internet blackout on reporting human rights violations since the October 25 military coup.
The Internet blackout is also “hindering the organisation of activities opposing the military coup to a certain extent”.
Members of resistance committees active in the neighbourhoods of Khartoum now resort to leaflets and oral calls to promote the November 13 and November 17 Marches of the Millions against the military.
On social media, a poster is circulating that requests Sudanese abroad to send text messages to their relatives and friends in Sudan with information about the November 13 protests.
Tens of millions of dollars per day
Al Jazeera.net Arabic reported yesterday that the Internet blackout has caused losses to Sudanese companies but also to the authorities and the government, amounting to tens of millions of dollars per day.
Some major companies have been able to use “very expensive Internet services”, while others stopped completely, communications expert Ehab Mohamed Ali told Al Jazeera.
The daily losses for the telecommunications companies are at least $6 million. The cessation of electronic payment services has hit other important sectors, related to the government, customs, ports, banks, and others, as well as private sectors.
The expert warned that the “other effects are no less severe than the closure of the ports in the east of the country, “especially as it is the second time that the service has been cut off for political reasons in the past two years, which will make dozens of investors think about packing their bags and leave due to the lack of basic guarantees”.