All internet-related agencies and telcos are silent on the Telegram disruption that has lasted for two weeks.

Telegram, a chat app with over 700 million monthly active users, has been unavailable to users in Kenya during the day, disrupting the service that has now lasted over two weeks, coinciding with the country’s ongoing college entrance examinations.

While Kenya’s Communications Authority (CA) has not confirmed the disruption, there are speculations that the timing of Telegram’s outage may be linked to an attempt to curb examination malpractice. 

Telegram is popular in Kenya because of features like cloud backups, and large groups that can accommodate thousands of members. Telegram channels are popular in the country among media companies and other businesses, which use them to share updates with their subscribers.

Telegram’s disruption has caught the attention of AccessNow, a non-profit digital rights group, which has written to three Kenyan telcos (Safaricom, Telkom, and Airtel), the ICT cabinet secretary Eliud Owalo, and Kenya’s Communications Authority (CA), seeking an explanation for the shutdown. “Blocking access to essential platforms that facilitate the exercise of rights and freedoms including freedom of expression and access to information is a violation of Article 35 of the Constitution of Kenya,” AccessNow argued in the letter.

As of the time of this report, the CA, which is responsible for overseeing ICT matters in the country, remained silent on the matter. Telcos like Telkom Kenya, Safaricom, and Airtel Kenya have also kept details private from their customers about the interruption. Customers accessing Telegram via Jamii Telecoms have not reported any disruptions. 

TechCabal’s efforts to reach the mentioned telcos and agency via calls and text were unsuccessful.

But why the partial disruption?

The partial shutdown coincided with the start of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations. The exams are a prerequisite to joining college or other institutions of higher education. However, rogue agents use Telegram to share examination materials for profit. Six individuals have been arrested for engaging in this vice, which has tainted the credibility of KCSE for years. The disruption may be an attempt to address cheating cases as the exams near their end later this week. 

It should be noted that Telegram is only offline during the day. At night, when exams are not being conducted, it runs just fine. It can also be circumvented using a virtual private network (VPN) application. 

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