Eritreans in the diaspora have launched a campaign on Twitter in a bid to persuade South African-born billionaire Elon Musk to provide the Horn of Africa nation with internet.
The campaign in question – #StarlinkforEritrea – comes after Musk, 50, provided Ukraine with Starlink dishes following concerns Russia could manipulate the country’s internet access as it continues to invade its neighbor, BBC reported.
The campaigners, who are mostly Eritreans based in the diaspora, are saying their home country has been in the dark for 20 years as a result of little access to the internet. The Horn of Africa nation reportedly has one of the lowest internet penetration rates on the continent. The International Telecommunication Union reports it’s hardly over 1%.
Currently, Eritrea’s only telecommunication operator is state-owned EriTel. And people who want to use the internet in the country can only do that via WiFi. It is, however, extremely slow. People who also want to access social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter use a virtual private network (VPN) to bypass censorship by the government, BBC reported.
Musk’s Starlink “provides high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe,” the company explains, adding that it uses “advanced satellites in a low orbit” in space to achieve that.
The satellite, however, needs to connect with a ground station or gateway that is close by to enable internet service. Ukraine can be able to use Starlink because of a gateway in neighboring Poland.
Isaias Afwerki has served as president of Eritrea since 1993. This was after he led the Horn of Africa nation’s 30-year independence drive from Ethiopia. However, his People’s Front for Democracy and Justice is the only political party in Eritrea – making it a one-party state. The country has also never organized any election and there are reports of violent clampdowns on the opposition as well as the media.
Last Wednesday, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Face2Face Africa reported. And though 17 African countries abstained from voting, Eritrea was the only African country that voted against the resolution.