ethiopia to develop local platforms

Ethiopia to develop local platforms to rival Twitter, Facebook

Ethiopia has started developing its own social media platform to rival Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

The state communications security agency, on Monday, said that the government does not plan to block the global services.

Ethiopia has been a troubled place since last year as an armed conflict has put the federal government against the Tigray People Liberation Front. 

The armed group controls the Tigray region in the country’s north.

The news of this development comes as supporters of both sides have launched a war of words on social media.

The Ethiopian government wants to use its local platform to “replace” Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp and Zoom, Shumete Gizaw – the director-general of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) – said.

Shumete alleged Facebook of removing posts and user accounts that were “disseminating the actual reality about Ethiopia”.

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The government, apart from this statement from Shumete, has not commented on those abandonments.

International human rights groups have criticised the government for unexplained shutdowns to social media services, including WhatsApp and Facebook in the past year. 

Kezia Anim-Addo, Facebook’s Africa spokesperson, refused to comment on Ethiopia’s plans and did not respond to a query about Shumete’s accusations.

Back in June, Facebook said it had removed a network of fake accounts just before elections in Ethiopia targeting domestic users, which it said are linked to individuals associated with INSA – a name responsible for monitoring the internet and telecommunications.

Twitter and Zoom have also declined to comment on the latest decision taken by the Ethiopian government.

Although Shumete did not specify a timeline, budget and other details of the development, he said, “The rationale behind developing such technology with local capacity is clear. Why is China using WeChat?”

He said Ethiopia has the expertise to develop the platforms and would refrain from hiring outsiders to help.