09 Jan Cameroon: Fight to keep Cameroon fully connected continues
Entrepreneurs, internet activists and end-users from inside and outside Cameroon are working together to alert the world to an internet shutdown within the Anglophone regions of the country. The shutdown is believed to have lasted over three months and is continuing.
A Twitter chat, under the hashtags #KeepItOn and #BringBackOurInternet took place at the weekend to increase awareness.
One of the main contributors Rebecca Enonchong, founder & CEO of AppsTech, who also serves as the board chair of a Doula-based tech hub, says international bodies including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should intervene as they have an influence on the Cameroonian government.
“We are calling upon IMF and Christine Lagarde to do more to stop the Cameroon government from restricting internet access in Anglophone zones. Your loans will have to be paid back by all citizens including millions in the zones affected. IMF and Lagarde cannot make another speech or write another report on Cameroon without addressing this economic issue that is greatly affecting the economy and especially tech entrepreneurs. The government will never listen to Cameroonians but they listen to IMF…”
Access Now, an international advocacy group dedicated to an open and free internet has urged organisations in Cameroon to contact its helpline on email@example.com.
Other groups that have expressed support include Internet Without Borders through its Executive Director Julie Owono who described the situation as “terrible”.
Cameroon has experienced distruption to its internet connectivity in the past. In June last year it restored connectivity after several weeks of a shutdown following intervention by the UN Secretary-General for Central Africa and Head of UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) François Louncény Fall.
Counting the cost
A report released by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in September 2017 found that internet shutdowns in Sub-Saharan Africa have cost the region up to US$237 million since 2015.
The report counts Cameroon among countries where public protests have led to internet disruptions along with nations including Burundi, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mali and Togo.