Cameroonian Government Leaves Millions Without Internet

Posted: Feb 06, 2017 11:25 AM

While many are tweeting and celebrating the victory of Cameroon against Egypt in Afcon 2017 (Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament), all of the English-speaking regions of Cameroon have been in a 3-week Internet blackout executed by the government of Cameroon. This Internet shutdown is now in its third week, and has affected upwards of 5 million people in the Northwest and Southwest regions. The government was able to do this because the state actually owns the corporation that runs its Internet, Cameroon Telecommunications. 

The shutdown comes amidst increasing protests against the state in the Anglophone regions, dubbed "Silicon Mountain." This area is home to many technology startups and was becoming quite important in the sector of African business. Those protesting accuse the government of economic marginalization, including issues with water, health care, and roads. The government has also tried, against the demands of the Anglophones, to impose French systems on them, such as schools.

With the Internet shutdown, ATMs aren't functioning either--which means no access to cash. 

Many leading entrepreneurs may be fleeing the country, because if the Internet shutdown continues, their companies will be seriously hurt (not to say they aren't already hurting).

Africa News reported the losses of companies based in Buea, the capitol of Southwest Cameroon.

The Internet Without Borders group estimates that small businesses had lost an estimated 44,000,000 CFA Francs, which translates to $723,000.

Some are even going as far to dub the government's action as a "digital apartheid," while the hashtag, #BringBackOurInternet, is being spread throughout social media. As if shutting down the Internet wasn't enough, the government sent out text messages warning citizens from sharing any information about what is going on. Edward Snowden is among the masses that have been criticizing the actions of the Cameroonian government. 

The government has not issued any statements that Internet connection will be revived soon, going against the hopes of those affected, which account for 23 percent of all Cameroonians.

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