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Eritrea's Communications Disconnect

It’s the least technologically connected country on earth

Illustration by 731

Three years ago, a ship carrying African migrants sank off the coast of Libya. More than 200 drowned, including dozens of young people fleeing their repressive, impoverished home country of Eritrea. Few noticed. “The accident wasn’t broadcast at all,” says Selam Kidane, a human-rights activist and Eritrean expatriate in London. At that time, all eyes were on the Arab Spring; after the ship disaster, Kidane and other expats resolved to try to change the status quo in their homeland, too. “We were trying to look at ways of giving that kind of revolution a chance in Eritrea,” she says. “Then we realized that we were lacking the infrastructure that was in Egypt or Libya. Or anywhere.”