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  • Ethiopia disconnected from the world

    “We have never seen such crowd,” Claus Steiner, general manager of Hilton Addis Ababa, said.

    The German-born hotel manager, who recently moved from Seychelles Hilton, seems surprised to see such a large number of guests visiting his Hotel. However, these guests were there for one purpose – internet access.

    Though there was a nationwide shutdown of internet access, Hilton was one of the small number of places that people can access the internet.

    The lobby of the hotel was almost full with people scrambling to get an access. Yet again, its business center was congested with a long line of people waiting for their turn.

    Unlike Hilton, many businesses have been paralyzed throughout the week as they have not been able to do their activities. And this is the result of an unprecedented action by the government to shutdown internet access.

    This is not the first time that Ethiopia is experiencing such a series of internet blackout. Last year, following a wide political unrest in Amhara and Oromia regional states, Ethiopia have experienced the same trend. In fact, social media was very instrumental which finally forced the government to block it.

    Last year, it was reported that US-based activists were said to be behind the leak of national exam papers before the official exam date.

    These activists have then leaked the exam papers on Facebook.

    By that time, around 246, 452 grade 12 students sat for the national exam and 1,029,782 grade 10 students took higher education leaving exam. The government has spent close to 250 million birr for the whole preparation of the exam.

    The leaks have created havoc across the nation. The government was forced to prepare a second exam.

    So far no one was held accountable for the leak.

    This time around the government has decided to cut the internet access without any prior notification which resulted in a wide outcry across the country.

    Business institutions such as banks, IT firms, hotels and travel agencies are among the many that are hugely affected by the action taken by the government, not to mention personal communication that was interrupted.

    Modern Eth Cyber Intel Consultancy is among those many business institutions which is hugely suffering the brunt of the blackout. The company, which mainly deals with IT outsourcing activities, has a partnership with a number of international IT firms.

    “The sad thing is because of the internet blackout our partner, which has worked in Ethiopia for the past nine years, have decided to move its work to Dubai, UAE, just in search of internet access,” Michael Tesfaye, manager partner of Modern, told The Reporter.

    “This is really frustrating,” he said.

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    Source: The Reporter Ethiopia

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  • US Embassy Ethiopian Airlines staff, hostesses and spouses to disclose their purpose of travel

    The US Embassy in Addis Abeba is not happy with employees or spouses of the Ethiopian Airlines who travel to the United States, give birth while on visitors` visa and return home with outstanding hospital bills.

    The Embassy has served a notice to the management of the Airlines, urging its employees travelling to the United States to disclose to consular officers should they have received medical care while in the US previously. The Embassy has compiled a list of all the Airline`s staffs or their spouses who gave birth there, sources disclosed. It also threatened to deny them entry permanently should they provide information in falsehood upon application for renewal.

    “Obtaining a visitor visa to get medical care in the United States, including for childbirth, is allowed under United States law,” said a spokesperson for the US Embassy in Addis Abeba, in an email sent to Fortune, while declining to comment on the particular case in relations to the Ethiopian Airlines. “But, travellers are expected to pay for the medical care they get.”

    Anyone who applies for a visa must disclose the purpose of their travel clearly during visa interviews and should pay for a planned expense, including medical treatment, according to the Embassy.

    Mostly cabin crews, women employees, and spouses of employees of the national carrier obtain visas to the United States with the aim of delivering there and hoping to get an automatic American citizenship for their children.

    “We know such problems exist,” said a person close to the Ethiopian Airlines Employees Union. “It is very normal. To make a child an American citizen, we have seen many employees travel to the United States to give birth.”

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