Friday , June 14 2024

Senegal Suspends Internet Amid Protests

Senegal’s communication ministry on Tuesday told mobile operators to suspend internet access, ahead of a planned protest that was banned by authorities — developments that happened while the West African nation’s economy took a hit due to a wave of cancellations triggered by political unrest.

At least three people have been killed and scores arrested in demonstrations across the country that started after President Macky Sall postponed the elections that were planned for February 25.

Tourism — together with oil — is one of the cornerstones of Senegal’s economic development plan.

The sector accounted for 10% of gross domestic product before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to World Bank figures.

“We have seen a large number of cancellations because of the crisis,” Pape Berenger Ngom, president of the Senegal Hotel and Restaurant Professionals’ Association, said.

“Hotel reservations have been particularly hit,” he added.

Searches for flights to Senegal which relies heavily on the winter sunshine trade, fell 17% in the week of February 2 to 8 compared to the previous week, according to the ForwardKeys consultancy that monitors travel industry trends.

Nevertheless, the Club Med holiday village operator indicated that there had not been much impact so far.

Its resort at Casamance was 98% full on Monday and it had not imposed restrictions on outside trips, it said.

Several multinationals appear to be prepared to ride out the storm, with British oil and gas giant BP and Australia’s Woodside both developing new oil fields off the Senegalese coast.

Multinationals including Nestle, Philip Morris and TotalEnergies also have operations in Senegal.

“Some employees are more worried than others,” one company chief based in Dakar said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the crisis.

So far, no foreign staff have asked to leave, the executive added, but “the atmosphere risks becoming more difficult” in coming days.

A protest that was planned for late Tuesday to speak against the delay of elections was postponed after it was banned by authorities.

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