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As fear of uprising spreads, Ethiopia’s dictator bans Skype

By Craig Wilson | Techcentral

The Ethiopian government has clamped down on Internet-based voice-calling services, making their use a criminal offence.

Ethiopia’s state-owned Internet service provider, the Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (Ethio-Telcom), has begun performing deep-packet inspection of all Internet traffic in the country. The country’s government recently ushered in new legislation that criminalises the use of services such as Skype, Google Talk and other forms of Internet phone calling.

The new law, which came into effect on 24 May, makes use of Internet voice services punishable by hefty fines and up to 15 years in prison.

The official line from the government is that the move is intended to protect national security and protect the national, state-owned telecoms carrier from losing revenue to Skype and similar services; this, despite the fact that Ethiopia’s fixed-line penetration rate is the second worst in Africa (after Sierra Leone) at an estimated 1% of its 85m strong population.

Ethiopia has instituted numerous restrictions on its digital community in recent years. The government has previously closed down Internet cafes offering voice-over-Internet protocol services and, in December 2006, made it obligatory for Internet cafes to keep records of the names and addresses of their customers in an effort to clamp down on bloggers and other users critical of the regime.

The new law prohibits all VoIP traffic along with audio and video data traffic via social media. The Africa Review reports that the law also gives the government the right to inspect any imports of voice communication equipment and accessories.

The OpenNet Initiative, which tracks Internet filtering and surveillance, says in a report on Ethiopia that the country already blocks all blogs hosted at and at, a site that aggregates Ethiopian news and has space for blogs and forums.

The new legislation is no doubt also motivated by the events of the Arab Spring that saw mass protests organised via social media. With many bloggers critical of Ethiopia’s current government, censorship by the state looks likely to increase.

19 thoughts on “As fear of uprising spreads, Ethiopia’s dictator bans Skype

  1. Hello Elias Kifle the GREAT (Keep it up!),

    ETHIOPIAN SPRING NOW NOW NOW. Let us demonstrate with our Moslem brothers.

    Anonymous replies:

    Let’s bring this evil regime down…..let’s have Ethio spring this new year! A million march toward meskel square!

  2. I think Prime Monkey Meles Kizenawi will soon ban moms from drinking coffee together. How on earth we Ethiopians let him to sheet all this years. Let’s do it now!!!!!!

    Alen replies:

    I like your expression of the Prime Monkey Meles Kizenawi

  3. The more one suppress people, the more dangerous one makes things. The best method was to do what people wanted instead of forcing people to do what they do not want. This will back-fire. You destroy holy places for money, you sell land, you traffick citizens to middle east, and you do everything in contrarty to the desire of the entire nation? just relying on force? Force will serve for a limited period. There will be saturation point where everything will break apart. Lesson must have been learnt from derg. Mengistu Hailemariam had the largest and strongest army, but it did not last more than 17 years. Meles despotic is doing the same thing. Wow, I hope God intervene and this man go away before more crisis comes. He is stupid. He is not using the opportunity to correct any past mistakes. He is rather adding more woods to burnt on the fire when the wood pile catches fire, it will be the end. I do not know what type of advisers he has. Let us wait and see where this will take them. The bible says,” ignorance, arrogance comes before downfall.” We do not care what American or IMF or WB says, but we are tired and we want our country back from traitors.

    Anonymous replies:

    I thought you are Eritrean?

    United We Stand replies:

    Unlike what shaebia and its satelite junior organizations such as the woyanes whom used taking orders from the untatchable sahel bunkers preach us about the previous Ethiopian regimes, they were at least an equal oppresors, not like the aparthied greedy woyanes that discriminate on the basic of eye colors and ethnicities.
    You and your Eritrean syber terrorist warlords are so disguising to belittle the great contributions of the Eritrean warsay/ykalo mothers and sisters which make reality the dream of dedebit boys pro-tgray manifesto streching thier tiny horizons beyond what they demanded originally. Be warned your kitfo left over hunter friends that they would never ever suceed dragging with them back to the dark age world of Talibanism.
    Lets cut the chase, do you know what i think of you: an inpacient dude eyeing desparetly, godforbid for the sexy post of north american ambasadorship had your favorite ganta ato Siye grabs the menelik palace the usual African way after meles which is same shit.
    By strategically putting a frenji marriage certificate on your resume, you’re on the rite track on your way to the arat kilo bro; especially if your poor soul partner happens to be lady, it’s always a plus icing on the cake with the conservative republicans.
    Whow knows buddy, after a while Africas might get lucky again having another tikur yes-man brother as head of the united nations secretary. Just keep on dreaming big chair:)

  4. wow yet our people are still chose to be silent. i mean the woyane government can not possibley put millions of people in jail for being disobidience. why are we so passive to all injustice that being done to us? when do we say enough is enough? there has to be a limit to unfair treatment. it amazes me when i hear people say “what can we do..they will kill us” let them kill us. freedom does not come for free. Apartahid fail because many died, and if all unite and stand for our dignity, we can bring change despite the woyanes weapons.


    Right to Life replies:

    its easy to be brave from a distance. Why dont’ you throw the first stone.

    Jegnaw replies:

    @Right to wrong
    Kidi,is only one stone among 90 million people and it takes a gut to speak the truth. And Kidi,is speaking the truth.and there is no weapon more powerful than truth.and sh is trowing and we are trowing the stone at you and people like you it just did not reach you yet..

    Beka,Beka and Beka

  5. There is nothing off limit to TPLF cabal. The sporadic resistance we ever had this long suddenly begin together momentum ever since Abebe Gelaw’s bold stand.Neverthless,we seem to be over preoccupied about Abebe’s heroic act , I am afraid ,as to lose sight of the developing events. The fear is already broken; we need leaders from all political spectrums to reach consensus for a collective action. The gravity of the problem this regime has posed to Ethiopia and Ethiopians should give the resistance rest. We must, at least, all political organizations come in to grip with the notion that, no matter what, any government is much preferable than TPLF bandits. This conviction ought to be commonly shared value by all. Though I speak in this terms, I am of the opinion that the many years of national dialogue we have had through these forums will be used a guiding principle, to put in place all inclusive representative to tackle the myriad problem of the country.

    Personally, I suggest we need to have two approaches to the struggle to liberate Ethiopia and two of them can be used side by side. One, establish brand new all representative national resistance army that will be directed by an all-inclusive political leadership. Once this plan is under way, the peaceful opposition political organizations need to call the nation to protest against weyane miss rule of the country. One thing we must know is the fact events will not continue the way they are. There is already a political crisis under way against this regime, precipitated by TPLF thieves interference on the two faiths. Irretrievably gone forever is public support to the occupying bandas.And there must be a consorted effort on the part of all political parties to seize this moment to hold the TPLF cabal responsible. We must not keep talking and let this moment slip away from us. It is for this reason that this condition needs proper handling and response.Peacful protest must be called. Depending on the result of the peaceful protest, provided the government clamps down on peaceful protesters, there has to be another alternative to freedom. Here in comes the role of the first method: armed resistance to free Ethiopia.

  6. Kidi,

    You can get freedom without dying. This is a TPLF and shabia type ideology? TPLF and shabia fought bloody war and consuming lives like fire and where the cost is much more than the benefit and now after the bloody 30 years of war in the North, Eritreans got nothing except of the loss of one generation youths for nothing. What TPLF bring by making 120 000 Tigreans souls? nothing/ can you calculate the value of 120 000 souls ? can you estimate the value of one person in terms of money? you can not buy life on the market like a gun? life is precious so but not in Africa. I am with you TPLF has to be done away, but not by bloody war or sacrificing any single life. Please adjust your beliefs. It is possible to get freedom without killing anyone. Who told you South Africans died to get freedom? South African struggle of civil more and is known as the most civil movement that set south african free. There was no blood, it was civil politics which helped them to move on peacefully. So people did not die in South Africa. Of course there was killing in Sewoto, but that did not help to bring fast freedom. Those bloody actions delayed freedom. Freedom without blood and iron is possible only requires genuine civil movement. I am against war mongering and killing no matter who does it.

    Anonymous replies:

    We wasted 20 years following your kid of ideology. If it did not work for last twenty years, it is not going to work in the future.
    Kidi has a point, there has to be a boiling point and people has to show their disapproval throw civil disobedience. When that happen their could be a loss of life. Of course people died during apartheid era to be pricies 20,000 of them and I am sure it will be 10 times more in our country because we have street tugs as leaders. I do not think kidi is suggesting war rather a meaningful reaction to all injustice that is being done day and day out in Ethiopia.

    Jegnaw replies:

    Freedom never free.stop your propaganda.

    Gezaee H. replies:

    Jgnaw, that is Ethiopian mentality. My friend, you have had alot of opportunities to do away TPLF? Mind you, it took 30 years to win Ethioian Army by Shabia and Woyane combined. How long will it take to overthrow EPRDF? another 40 years or not? add 40 years todays Ethiopia fighting another civil war? Ethiopian will be hell on earth than it is even today. This is why there are any politicians in Ethiopia.That is the reason Kinjit refused to take over addis? maddness? how would one refuse to take over the capital city of Ethiopia? It is called Madness. Now those who refused to takeover addis ababa are running around Eritrea to get to Addis Ababa? Now they have to fight through Tigrai, Gonder, Wollo,… all the way up to get to Arat kilo? KKKKK, Keshim poliiticians lost it on the court of the game.

    I do not believe there can be civil disobedience because there is no unity among Ethiopia. The mistrust is 100% among Ethiopians. And that is there are about 100 ineffective, toothlesss,… factions all over which are exhausted the public by raising money to do nothing. Do you believe people like Elias Kifle can be leaders of Ethiopia by uniting people? Elias + his cohorts have no clue about politics. Their political tactic is scare and intimidate tactic. No one will join intimidators who call Ethiopian Airlines Woyane? People like Elias + CO do not know thier enemies. Everyone who is not amhara is thier enemy. Who would join such narrow politicians who target innocent people because they have EPRDF membership? you can win modern politics by scaring people? Even Woyane + Shabia never used scare tactic. It is an old Mengistu type tactic that will not work in modern day world. To win poliitcs, you have win the heart of people, you can win by scaring people and intimidating people not to go here and there. People must have free choice. You cannot choose for people. The Ethiopian politics is based on hatred, not based on ideology.

  7. It is a given that the brutal dictator is trying to hide his and his TPLF thugs past and present criminal records and activities with the help of foreign billionier land owners. Besides their looting of hundreds of billions of Ethiopia’s money, treasures and land, the criminal Woyanes haven’t realized that the blood stains and the dripping blood of the hundreds of thousands innocent Ethiopians is impossible to get rid off from the hands of the most heartless Dictator Meles and his TPLF killer dogs. God works with his own time table and Dictator Meles and the rest of TPLF will be exposed and humiliated in front of the entire world as it happened to the dictators of Egypt,Libya and Tunisia.

  8. i really cant understand the reasoning behind? we have the poorest telecom sector, low internet users and whether we like it or not we are part of this ever digitized world economy. what we need is the gov to promote and develop the use of science and technologies to curve the challenges we are facing for centuries.

    The motive for this radial and untimely law is not to the well-being of the people or the country AT ALL. They should be told they cant just do against the interest of the people – forget about being competitive – while we are continuously pushed to open up our zone – very, very saddening

    Almaz replies:

    I think the motive is money. Someone who is their friend and who is in their party, is making money and give some to them. That is how it works in Africa and specially in Ethiopia. Meles is pretending that he is not a corrupt and a dictator in the whole world. What a jerk? Moron.

  9. Every thing that Meles is doing to restrict Ethiopians of our is only fluineing us to strike back. He can not sepress us with fear forever. He is diging him self a very deep whole and the only way out is to be blasted out so he can see from a distase what he has done. We have to blast him OUT!!

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