Malawi operators witness connectivity problems during elections

19 July 2019

Malawi Telecommunications and fibre-optic network operator SimbaNet last month joined the list of African service providers that have experienced disrupted internet connectivity during crucial election periods. 

The internet providers saw service interruptions as results from the general election came in on Tuesday May 21st. It is understood the disruption lasted six hours in some cases.

According to reports, the suspension came after a tight election in which president Peter Mutharika was seeking a second term in office. 

Data from digital advocacy group NetBlocks showed the outage began at 6:30pm local time, half-an-hour after counting began around the country and results were being sent to the electoral commission. Fixed network carrier Malawi Telecommunications and SimbaNET were reported to be among those affected.

Local media also noted television and radio communications were taken off air in different parts of Malawi.

Despite the high cost of internet combined with low internet and mobile penetration in Malawi, fake news made its way on to social media in the weeks prior to the elections, prompting a warning from the telecom regulator, The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority.