Presentation to United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan

Submitted by peter on Tue, 11/02/2021 - 06:32

Thank you for this opportunity to speak about the impact of sanctions on Zimbabwe, with a focus on US sanctions. I am speaking on behalf of the Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (ZISPA) which represents all major Internet-related organisations in the country.

The US State Department says that US sanctions target only 83 individuals and 37 entities. However Zimbabwe has a population of over 15 million people who are all negatively impacted directly or indirectly by these sanctions. I would like to speak with regards to their impact on the Internet sector, noting that the use of the Internet is now a fundamental part of people’s lives. It is estimated that over 5 million people in Zimbabwe have and use Internet access, but their usage of it is affected by sanctions in many negative ways.

Given the short notice I have received about your visit, I have not had the opportunity to make a detailed study of the impact of sanctions. However, feedback that I have obtained from members of our organisation lists the following non-comprehensive list of issues that affect their operations:

  • Difficulties with international payments both inwards and outwards:
    • Local debit cards not recognised
    • American banks that refuse to allow transfers to Zimbabwe banks
    • Foreign banks that use a correspondent bank in America for international transfers are unable to make transfers to Zimbabwe banks
    • American payment organisations refuse to accept Zimbabwe clients
  • Foreign organisations providing Internet-related services that will not accept clients from Zimbabwe. Specific problems relate to accessing the following services:
    • Hosting of websites
    • Hosting of email
    • Hosting of DNS records
    • Provision of SSL certificates that are essential for reputable websites
    • Cloud services
  • Some websites will block access from Zimbabwean IP addresses
  • Zimbabwe is often not to be found in a pick-list of countries when attempting to register for a particular online service

Zimbabwe is one of nine countries that are restricted by US Export restriction laws. That is the justification that many American companies use to deny services to potential clients in Zimbabwe.

It is clear that sanctions on Zimbabwe are causing severe inconvenience to organisations and individuals in the country. We would like to be given the opportunity to prepare a detailed report on the impact of these sanctions on Internet-related activities.

Jim Holland
System Administrator
Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (ZISPA)Managers of Zimbabwe's domain name registry