Ethiopia Top VPN, Legality, Stats, and Recommendations

Michael Gargiulo - CEO, VPN.com

By: Michael Gargiulo, CEO at VPN.com

Updated: 4:15 PM ET Tue, May 26th 2020

Introduction

Located in Eastern Africa, Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa. Although the population is close to 107 million people, there are only 11.5 million Internet users. There are approximately 18 million mobile phones in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian economy is growing at one of the fastest rates in the world. The population is also the second biggest in Africa. Many industries are privatized or are in the process of privatization.

But the telecommunications sector is under state control, because it’s seen as a strategic sector. As a result, the landlocked country of Ethiopia has very strong online censorship policies in place. Internet connectivity is also consistently unpredictable because it’s owned by the government.

The use of a VPN in Ethiopia can help you feel private and secure. Citizens are starting to use a VPN for these reasons and to circumvent government censorship. Political sites often get blocked and journalists self-censor their reports. In this article, we will look closer at why you should use a VPN in Ethiopia.

Is it Legal to Use a VPN in Ethiopia?

VPNs are legal in Ethiopia. However, there is a ban on all voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) services. The ban on Skype, Google Talk, and other VOIP services began in 2012.

Why Use a VPN in Ethiopia?

Digital Privacy Rights

 

The Ethiopian government takes censorship seriously. There is a concentrated effort to stop unwanted information from entering the public landscape. In theory, there are some data protections in place for Ethiopian citizens. The issue, however, is that there are no laws that deal specifically with data protection. There are measures taken, but the legislation exists across multiple pieces of governmental law. As a result, there is growing concern that the country has no framework in place to deal with cybersecurity threats.

A VPN helps protect your information, especially when preventative measures at a government level have yet to be solidified.

 

Censorship

 

Social media and adult sites are not censored in Ethiopia. Pirate Bay can also be used. But the country has been rated “not free” by Freedom on the Net several times in the past years. Social media sites are often shut down following anti-government protests. Ethiopia is also listed as an enemy of the Internet.

Reporters Without Borders labels countries enemies of the Internet if they restrict access through censorship and surveillance.

 

Data Collection

 

It is safe to assume that the government of Ethiopia is collecting user data. The government also goes to extreme measures to protect its censorship stance. The Information Network Security Agency (INSA) tracked down Ethiopian journalists who were inside of the United States.

ISPs are owned by the government, which means they are also collecting data. Exclusive control of Internet access is regulated by Ethio Telecom and the Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency (ETA).

If you are one of the 5.8 million Facebook users in Ethiopia, it’s strongly advisable to use a VPN to protect your information.

 

Protection on Public Wi-Fi

In the capital city of Addis Ababa, there are 11,221 free WiFi hotspots. While this provides the population with easy access to the Internet, public WiFi poses a considerable security issue. One threat is surveillance by the government (as we have already mentioned, they exclusively control the Internet). The second is that these networks make it easy for hackers to steal information. Hackers position themselves between your device and the network you wish to connect to. Any information you send can be collected before it reaches its intended destination. By using a VPN on your mobile devices, you’re adding a needed level of cybersecurity.

 

Dangers of VPN Usage in Ethiopia

 

Because of tight government control, there have been arrests over Internet activity. Surveillance is not uncommon, and the consequences for being caught using a VPN are unpredictable.

But a VPN undeniably offers a level of security in an uncertain country. A VPN can encrypt your data and mask your original IP address. Accessing the Internet with an IP address located outside of Ethiopia can help you circumvent many of the regulations in place.

Internet Speed and VPN Accessibility

Ethiopia ranks 94 out of 190 countries in terms of average Internet connection speed on mobile devices. The average download speed is 20.93 megabits per second Mbps. The average upload speed is 11.88 Mbps.

For fixed broadband Internet, Ethiopia ranks 150 out of 190 countries. The average download speed is 11.42 Mbps. The average upload speed is 17.50 Mbps.

 

VPN Servers

 

PureVPN is one of the few VPN providers that offer virtual servers in Ethiopia. But the use of an Ethiopian IP address is not helpful if you wish to avoid Internet censorship and surveillance. An Ethiopian IP address is helpful if you want to watch local streaming content or access local websites. But you should opt for a server located abroad to protect yourself online.

 

How to Find a VPN Provider

 

What are the qualities to look for in a VPN you wish to use in Ethiopia? Here are factors to consider:

  • Fast connection speeds and reliable service – The Internet speeds in Ethiopia are already low. A VPN that doesn’t have fast speeds will slow down your connection even more. Free VPNs are enticing, but if you’re looking to have a stable connection inside of Ethiopia, you should consider using a quality, paid option.
  • No-logging policy – Many VPNs do not log user information. But certain providers are required to keep information for future use by law enforcement. Depending on the location of the VPN, they might not have any legal requirements to hold information. In Panama, for instance, this is the case. Because Ethiopia is an enemy of the Internet, you should make sure the VPN you use does not keep a record of your online information.
  • Ability to unblock geo-restricted content – Due to distribution and licensing agreements streaming libraries vary greatly around the world. If you wish to stream Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or Hulu shows while in Ethiopia, pick a provider that’s capable of doing this. Many providers offer a money-back guarantee or trial period. Test out their service to make sure it works with your needs.
  • A large number of servers – Access to servers around the world helps to ensure a seamless VPN experience. Many countries in Africa have censorship regulations and lower Internet speeds. Improve your time online by routing your IP address to a country with less surveillance. Changing location will also unlock additional streaming catalogs. Multiple servers also help to prevent overcrowding, making sure your VPN does not slow your internet connection down even more.

Wrapping Up

Internet usage in Ethiopia is low because of fear. There is also a barrier to access as a result of high poverty levels. It’s important to take steps to protect your data and information no matter what you use the Internet for. In a country where the entire telecommunications sector is under government control, there is no guarantee of privacy. A quality VPN can make for a safer online experience. It will also unlock additional content that might be blocked due to censorship or licensing agreements.

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Learn About Ethiopian VPN Services and Internet Access

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