Ethiopia is developing its own social media platforms to rival US-owned sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the country’s intelligence and cybersecurity agency has said.
Information Network Security Agency (INSA) director-general Shumete Gizaw said Ethiopia wants to be “self-sufficient” in its communications.
“Honestly, the challenge we’re facing currently is social media platforms have become tools for political motives,” Shumete said in an interview with UAE media outlet Al-Ain Amharic last week.
The plans come as Ethiopian troops and their allies are engulfed in a war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the north of the country that has left thousands of people dead and pushed hundreds of thousands into famine-like conditions.
As the conflict widens, the government and its TPLF foes have been locked in a war of words, each accusing the other of spreading lies and propaganda.
“Potentially influential Ethiopian and truth-laden messages distributed on Twitter and Facebook are deleted quickly by Facebook and Twitter,” Shumete charged.
“What’s beneficial for us is at the very least developing our own nationwide systems which can replace Facebook and Twitter and we’re working on it.”
Shumete was unavailable for comment on the plans.
In June, Facebook removed dozens of what it said were fake Ethiopian accounts linked to the INSA ahead of a general election that saw Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s party win by a landslide.
INSA was established by Abiy, who started out a 20-year career in the military as a radio operator, in 2008.