Cameroon reportedly blocked Internet in its English speaking parts, and three weeks later, residents reported that their services have not been restored. What is going on?
Cameroon reportedly blocked the Internet for about 20 percent of its population, mainly the English-speaking regions for three weeks and ongoing. Cameroonians seem to think that this is an intentional act by the government.
About the Internet Block
The two regions whose Internet was blocked was South-West and North-West Cameroon, and both have had anti-government protests in the past few months.
One day before the Internet was blocked, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, in a statement warned social media users of criminal penalties if they “issue or spread information, including by way of electronic communications or information technology systems, without any evidence.”
They also mentioned that authorities sent text messages directly to mobile phones to notify them, in order to ensure the message is heard loud and clear. Penalties could include long jail terms for “spreading false news.”
As a result of the outage, many digital-dependent businesses have had to temporarily relocate to Douala or Yaounde where Internet is available.
Comments on the Block
Many Cameroonians have taken to Twitter to post screenshots of the warnings they received. One posted a picture, with a caption reading: “That our govt insists on sending threats about “the” #socialmedia shows how out of touch with reality they are. #BringBackOurInternet.”
Mobile phone companies, through which many Cameroonians access the Internet, have said that they were not able to prevent the outage, since the fibre-optic infrastructure they rely on is provided by a state-owned company.
Orange’s response to one customer’s complaint, as posted on Twitter, was: “Dear @AlbertNchinda, you can reach your loved ones through other channels including calls or text messages. Sorry Orange can’t provide comprehensive answers to your queries. Thanks for your understanding.”