Egypt reopens Internet connections, businesses react

Anti-government protestors continue to defy the curfew in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Protests in Egypt continued with the largest gathering yet, with many tens of thousands assembling in central Cairo, demanding the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: There are reports Egypt's government is reopening the Internet in parts of the country today. If ever so slowly. That's after President Hosni Mubarak announced he would step down from power later this year. Yet the protests continue in many parts of Egypt. Including central Cairo, where the BBC's Gavin Lee is with us now. Hi Gavin.

GAVIN LEE: Hi.

CHIOTAKIS: How are businesses reacting to Mr. Mubarak stepping down later this year?

LEE: Well, I think just to look outside -- let me tell you where I am. I'm overlooking Tahrir Square and so many people I spoke to in the square from such a range of jobs -- from doctors to lawyers to lecturers, even fishermen, council workers -- the people that should be in the office, they're not in. They're going to take the next few days off. I think on a minimum level, the front line disruptions in these services will be felt across Cairo certainly.

CHIOTAKIS: We've heard reports, Gavin, that some shipping companies were -- or still are -- rerouting ships away from the Suez Canal to avoid possible disruptions. How has shipping, especially of oil supplies, been affected?

LEE: Well I was on the Sinai Peninsula yesterday, and remember Egypt isn't a huge oil supplier, but what passes through, of course, the Suez is a big business. It was the fear factor yesterday. They were running as normal. We're hearing reports as well that they are starting to slow down -- the problems with oil. And again, it starts to wobble -- the system's share prices start to wobble as well. And I think it is the fear factor. I must say I think the biggest -- one of the biggest problems -- the lack of the Internet. Businesses not being able to book things for tourists, hotels. These things start to become a bigger issue as the days progress.

CHIOTAKIS: And we hear Gavin the Internet is back in Cairo and Alexandria. Are you aware of that?

LEE: It certainly not the case at the part of Cairo that I am at the moment. It possibly is in pockets. And the difficulty is because we have mobile disruption as well, it's very difficult to find out who is back online and who isn't.

CHIOTAKIS: Gavin Lee from the BBC in Cairo this morning. Gavin, thank you.

LEE: Take care. Speak soon.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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