Three weeks after reports have spread that Cameroon has blocked internet from the English-speaking parts of the country, residents are still asking whether internet will be restored. Cameroon residents believe that blocking the internet for 20% of the population was an intentional act made by the government.
South-West and North-West, the regions that were affected by internet outage have seen anti-government protest actions in recent months. Before the disappearance of internet services for the regions, the Ministry of Posts and Communications has issued a warning that social media users will face criminal penalties if they will issue or spread information through electronic communication or information technology systems without any factual evidence.
The statement of the Ministry of Posts and Communications has confirmed that the government has indeed sent the text messages to mobile phone subscribers to notify them of the penalties like long term jail term if they were to spread false news through social media. Several Cameroonians have posted screenshots on Twitter showing the warnings that were received by some citizens.
Since there was no official statement about the internet, Cameroonians concluded that the severance of the services was part of a government attempt to stop dissent. In their criticism of the government, Cameroonians have taken aim at the mobile companies who were the providers of services to access the internet. The mobile companies on the other hand were not able to prevent the outage because they rely on fibre-optic infrastructure provided by a state-owned company.
Most of Cameroon’s digital economy can be found in the South-West capital of Buea which is also known as the Silicon Mountain. It was reported that some of the entrepreneurs including their workforce have temporarily relocated to Douala or Yaounde where internet is available. Other businesses like the banks that are less mobile but digitally dependent have no choice but suffer.
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