21 April 2017

Cameroon: Internet Restored! #BringBackOurInternet

Photo: no internet

Cape Town — Internet connection has been re-established in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon after almost three months of blackouts. President Paul Biya ordered Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, to instruct internet service providers to re-establish connectivity to these regions, according to Cameroon Info.

The cut was the government's response to a series of paralysing protests in the English-speaking regions of the country since November 2016. The regions were protesting against marginalization by the majority French-speaking Eastern region, with some calling for a return to the federal system. This would allow for a two state federation which was the system in place when the countries - Eastern and Western Cameroon - came together in 1972.

Others were advocating for a complete cessation from Cameroon to form the Ambazonian Republic.

Schools and the courts have been closed since November, with leaders arrested and being tried on charges of terrorism.

This action from the government has cost impacted on the economy, with nearly 3 million euros ($3.1 million) lost since January, according to French NGO, Internet sans Frontieres (Internet without Borders). The blackout has drawn criticism from both the UN and other human rights groups. The government said the action was meant to curb the spread of false information, but rights groups disagree.

The African Network Information Centre (AFRINIC), responsible for the distribution and management of Internet number resources - IP address space (IPv4 and IPv6) and Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs) say there needs to be some punitive action against governments that shut down the internet. They plan to restrict African governments' access to internet resources if they stop their citizens from accessing the web. The regional internet registry body will be meeting at the end of May when such a policy could be adopted.

Whether the reconnection will bring calm to the restive region remains to be seen.

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