For the past few weeks, I have been seeing reports on community forums and social media on Kenyans having an issue accessing Telegram, the popular instant messaging platform. I use Telegram pretty frequently, but I was unaffected and I attributed the issue to server-side glitches on Telegram’s end, nothing too uncommon.
That was until earlier this week when I too was affected. I stopped receiving messages from the work group chat but that resolved itself after a few hours. Weird, but whatever. But the all day yesterday I was not able to connect to Telegram at all. Something was up.
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What’s Actually Goin on?
Well, long story short, censorship apparently!! It appears as though these Telegram outages are countermeasures against the rampant spreading of KCSE and KCPE leakages on the platform in a bid to curb examination irregularities.
From a series of Tweets by the Open Observatory, a platform with tools that measure Internet censorship and also host the largest open dataset on Internet censorship worldwide, Kenyans have been systematically blocked from accessing Telegram through some of the biggest ISPs in the country.
As of 8th November 2023, OONI data from #Kenya shows the persistent blocking of Telegram on Jambonet (AS12455) until the last time it was tested on this network (15th November 2023).Advertisement - Continue reading belowOpenObservatory
OONI data shows that the TCP handshake is successful and that it only times out after the connection is established. This, coupled with the precise correlation with the timing of the exams, provides a strong indication of intentional Telegram blocking in Kenya.Source
So yes, you’re experiencing outages, probably because of the ongoing national examinations, which is okay if you think about it but is this really the way to go? Collective punishment for all Kenyans on Telegram courtesy of a few bad actors on the platform?
This, in my opinion, is a very dangerous precedence that the current regime is setting. We’ve heard of internet censorship in many countries in the region but Kenya stood out as the one exception. Not anymore. This needs to be rebuked, lest we find ourselves in an internet blackout come next elections.
To fellow Telegram users in Kenya experiencing the ongoing outage, I understand the frustration this situation may have caused. I mean we use Telegram as the primary communication platform for the team here at Dignited.
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Luckily, there seems to be a potential workaround until things get back to normal. Many users have reported success in bypassing the issue by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). By connecting through a VPN, you might be able to regain access to Telegram and continue your conversations seamlessly.
While the root cause of the outage is still not officially acknowledged by any involved parties, utilizing a VPN appears to be a workaround that many have found effective.
Are you also experiencing these Telegram outages in Kenya? Which VPN are you using to circumvent this? Tell us in the comments below.