On Sunday October 1, 2017, the government of La Republique du Cameroun (LRC), once again shut down internet services in Southern Cameroons. Today January 6, 2018, marks exactly 100 days since the black out.
From Bamenda, through Buea to Mamfe, life remain totally on a stand still amid the internet shut down. Economic activities have been highly touched with start-ups (social entrepreneurs) being the hardest hit.
“People have taken the last seven years to build the Silicon Mountain community with their bare hands and no government support. Now, the government’s one move is about to crush all that. It is so frustrating,” a senior staff lamented.
“100 days is too much. We have lost quite a lot due to this internet shut down. The government cannot be preaching digital economy, yet, impeding the growth of the sector. I feel so battered by the government’s move,” cried out Eric Eforme, a digital economist in Bamenda.
Yet, in a press release on 28 September 2017, the LRC through its Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Mrs Libom Likeng, denied allegations of an imminent Internet shutdown.
For Julie Owono, executive director of Internet Without Borders,
“The incoherence of Cameroonian authorities is obvious, the reality is contrary to their declarations of good intentions, which are intended to reassure the international community. This new Internet shutdown is contrary to numerous commitments by Cameroon, notably on the right to access to the Internet. In addition, it violates the recent UN resolutions condemning the deliberate disruption of Internet.”
This new Internet shutdown is contrary to the commitments made by LRC to the United Nations Organization on 13 April 2017, which established access to the Internet as a prerequisite
to the end of the political conflict between the government and protest movements in Southern Cameroons.
Southern Cameroons, which has been in a political crisis since November 2016, was deprived of the Internet for three months from January to April 2017.
“Internet Without Borders is again concerned about this voluntary interruption of access to the Internet imposed to a quarter of the population of Cameroon. The previous network interruption lasted three months, from January to April 2017. It was the longest shut down by a country in Africa. Its impact on the country’s economy was devastating and had been valued at more than 4 million euros.” Julie Owono reminded.
Though many descending voices have trumpeted condemnation over LRC repressive actions on the people of Southern Cameroons, the despotic government remain adamant.
Nonetheless, the international community is expected to do more. According Professor Ameachi Godwill, Nigerian US based lecturer at the Texas University, the international community must device new means of stopping dictatorship governments who use basic livelihood provisions, to push forward their agenda.
“The international is becoming more weakening to me. We cannot allow dictators to consolidate grip in power by preventing people from having their basic utilities. I think that the international community must do more to pressure the government of Paul Biya to reinstate internet in Southern Cameroons, and also make a firm pledge never to do it again,” Pro Godwill said.
The people of Southern Cameroons remain steadfast on separating with LRC. Amid the internet shut down, denizens use alternative methods like acquiring the Virtual Private Network (VPN), to access internet.
By Lucas Muma,
Managing Editor – BaretaNews