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Ethiopia Wants to Build an Open Digital Economy, but Keeps Blocking Major Social Media Platforms

Since February, when the Horn of Africa nation banned Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Telegram and YouTube, its struggling economy has lost more than $140 million, according to estimates by Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD Ethiopia), which has campaigned for the end of the restrictions. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government raised hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing fees from telecoms investors and other financial institutions keen to gain entry to the once completely closed Ethiopian economy, home to Africa’s second largest population. This month it announced a new license to bring in a third phone company to the country and approved a mobile money license last month for Kenyan phone company Safaricom. But investment in the digital economy hasn’t followed.