Ethiopia has banned Skype and other voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) services, AllAfrica is reporting, following the passing of a new law in late-May 2012. Those that break the law, which was endorsed on the grounds of national security, face up to 15 years in prison. The new legislation, meanwhile, is also said to allow the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCIT) to ban the import of communications equipment. Reporters Without Borders was cited by the report as criticising the move, claiming that the country was trying to ‘attack every means of information exchange’.
With internet telephony having increased in popularity in the east African nation, offering lower calling rates that traditional fixed voice services, it has been claimed that the move to ban such services may in part be intended to protect the state’s monopoly over telephone communications.