• Darfur

  • Monday, February 12, 2024 at 6:57 AM
    Last Update : Wednesday, February 14, 2024 at 7:05 AM

Darfur Citizens Groaning Under High Costs of Satellite Internet

(AWP) - The people of Nyala, the capital city of the South Darfur State, western Sudan, rely on satellite internet as their only means of communication with far-away family members.

Phone and internet calls have been unavailable for several months due to the war raging between the Sudanese Army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which began in April, 2023. Given the war’s deleterious effect on the economy, many locals say that they can no longer afford internet access.

Ahmed Mohamed Abkar, a satellite internet provider, said that he was trying hard to offer an affordable service, but that he faces problems of his own, like power outages and high fuel prices.

“The higher the cost of our subscription to have a strong signal, the more citizens have to pay. Poor citizens cannot afford to pay 3,000 Sudanese pounds (roughly $5) for an hour of service. We are trying as much as we can to price the service according to our subscription rate, and to make things easier for them,” he said.

“We are also troubled by power outages, and that is why we use solar energy, to save ourselves the cost of power generators and fuel, which can cost 16,000 pounds for one gallon. With solar energy, I work only during the morning, and get an income of 25,000-30,0000 pounds based on demand,” added Abkar.

The people of Nyala face a dilemma. Though they are eager to check on family members, who may be amongst the hundreds of thousands displaced from their original cities and villages, many cannot afford the exorbitant costs.
They must pay 1,000 Sudanese pounds (roughly $1.66) for only one hour of Internet service, which may not be enough time to finish.

Suhaila Adam, a Sudanese woman who lives in Nyala, said the people face great difficulty with communications.

“We have troubles. There are some deaths in our family, and we cannot communicate with our relatives. If someone dies, we only know about it in three or four days. We take transportation, walk and pay for the Internet provider. I don’t know why we have to put up with this. We need some means to spare us this suffering,” she explained.

Tariq Makky, a Sudanese man, said that he had to pay 2,000 pounds every day to check on his relatives and friends, and to follow up the news about the country.

“This is something not all people can afford, so they just wait for a caller to come back, and ask him about the news, or have him contact someone to check on their relatives for them,” he indicated.

“The Internet service is a real suffering for us in this state,” added Makky.