Sudan conflict disrupts communications for millions

Sudan conflict disrupts communications for millions

It’s been widely reported that communications across Sudan were down on Monday this week. The country’s military government – and spokespeople from the telecoms sector – have blamed the paramilitary Rapid Support Force (RSF).

The RSF is at war with the Sudanese army in a conflict that broke out in April over plans to integrate the RSF and the army as part of a political transition towards elections.

The RSF has not officially commented, although Reuters cites an RSF source that suggests it is not to blame for the outages. The state news agency, by contrast, suggests that the RSF shut down the connections of two providers – MTN Sudan and state-owned Sudani (part of Sudatel). The RSF controls much of the capital, Khartoum, which could make its role in network shutdowns more likely. 

The RSF has demanded the restoration of networks in the western region of Darfur, which it largely controls. It blames the Sudanese army for the Darfur outages.

Whoever is to blame for the various disruptions, Reuters cites Netblocks, an internet observer, which showed connectivity for the two major providers, falling to – or close to – zero in recent days. This will affect not only connectivity with friends and family but online payments for millions of Sudanese people.

It has also been claimed by government news sources that the RSF has forced Sudan's third main provider, Zain Sudan, to stop service in River Nile state and Port Sudan city, both controlled by the army.

And of course, even without direct military involvement in network shutdowns, the fighting has affected or damaged all sorts of infrastructure – including network infrastructure.

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