It seems there’s some good news coming from Ethiopia (and East Africa). Hundreds of prisoners, including prominent bloggers and dissidents were released earlier this week in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has been in the news in recent years for Internet disruptions and arrests of bloggers and activists, a good number arising from the crisis in the Oromia region.
Someone once mentioned to me that in some parts of Europe, Africa typically means “Ethiopia”.
This is probably so because of their rich history and culture which has spread round the world. Ethiopia also has the second largest population in Africa – over 102 million, about 8% of the continent’s population. Putting it another way, roughly 1 in 13 Africans is an Ethiopian.
However, Ethiopia also represents one of the most repressive environments for digital rights in Africa.
It’s Internet penetration rate of 15.3% (ITU) in a country with such a large population also means that millions of people don’t even have Internet access in the first place.
The monopoly of the state owned Ethio Telecom eases government’s information controls in the country, and perhaps also accounts for the penetration rate.
Perhaps the mass release of prisoners suggests reconciliation and stability is in the offing. Fingers crossed.