A diplomatic row between Uganda and Rwanda which resulted in each country blocking the other country's news websites has now been resolved. Diplomatic representatives from both countries say they have agreed to unblock Internet access to each others news websites following the signing of a peace agreement in Angola between President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

The diplomatic tensions between Rwanda and Uganda date back to 2017 which resulted in the largest common border post between the two East African countries, Gatuna, being shut down.

“We are on a positive footing and are having good discussions. Actually they [Uganda Communications Commission] were the first to say let us resolve this and get it over with. And we are in total agreement,” Patrick Nyirishema, Director General of Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura), is reported to have said.

On Thursday, 22 August 2019, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) issued an order for the country's Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to Rwanda's New Times online publication and Igihe's news website. In total, Uganda ended up blocking a minimum 6 Rwandan news websites. The UCC said the blocks were as a result of national security concerns.

Following this,Rwanda retaliated. On Friday, 23 November 2019, Kagame's country blocked numerous Ugandan news websites including The Observer, NilePost Softpower, New Vision, Daily Monitor, and The Independent.

What was surprising about this now resolved stand-off is that the blocking of news websites in Rwanda and Uganda came a day after Museveni and Kagame signed the peace deal in Angola.

More importantly, this illustrates the power that African governements have over telecommunications companies. As soon as a government issues and order for a website block or Internet cut-off, without any resistance, telecommunications companies always oblige.

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