23 August 2016

Gambia: Are Social Networking Applications Blocked?

Cell phone users in the Gambia have not been able to communicate with others using social media applications such as viber and whatsap for the past five days.

The users of these applications want to know what is responsible for this problem. Foroyaa is receiving unconfirmed information from users that applications such as Whatsapp, IMO, skype, etc. are being blocked by the national internet service provider.

Modou Lamin Bah, a youth activists in Banjul, confirmed that his Whatspp has not been accessible for five days now and has really disconnected him from some of his friends he used to communicate with through this application.

"I always use Whatsapp to communicate with many of my friends here in the Gambia and outside and it has been helping me to easily connect with people from distant places," he said.

He lamented the lack of connectivity being experienced by users and wants to know what the problem is and when will it be fixed.

He called on the internet service providers to remedy the situation as soon as possible to facilitate easy communication among users.

Another Whatsapp user in Banjul, Abdoulie Krubally, explained how this application has been benefitting him in his communication with relatives outside the Gambia. "I cannot use Whatsapp, Viber and IMO to communicate with people now and it seems all these applications are all affected," he said.

Fatou Sowe from Farato, Mariama Manneh from Bakoteh and Kemo Bojang, who are all young people, have said they are being affected by this disconnection of the applications and are calling on the responsible authority to restore the service as soon as possible.

This is what had prompted this reporter to visit the Public Utilities and Regulatory Authority (PURA), the national regulator of telecommunication services, on Monday 22 August 2016 to find out the veracity or otherwise of the claim.

Efforts to talk to the Director General of PURA could not materialise as he was indisposed at the time. However, Foroyaa will continue the efforts to get an official explanation on the matter for the customers.

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