The government of Cameroon has completely shut down internet connection in its English-speaking regions: northwest and southwest region of the country. This is according to Quartz Africa
This comes less than 2 hours after it outlawed the activities of of two pressure groups- Southern Cameroons National Council and the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, in the anglophone regions.
This move which was taken by the Paul Biya-led administration, is the first time the government would tamper with internet connectivity. This looks like a response to the years of protest by the English-speaking Cameroonian side who have been complaining against marginalisation by the French-speaking led government. The Anglophone regions account for just under 20% of the Cameroon’s 23 million population.
The affected regions noted that there was no prior notice to the blackout as they only suddenly realised that they could no longer communicate and disseminate information; particularly on social media.
According to this report, Cameroon’s Ministry of Post and Telecommunications allegedly handed down instructions to the various network service providers to strictly implement the shutdown.
MTN Cameroon, which is a leading operator in the affected areas, reportedly sent messages to its subscribers, acknowledging the internet blackout and stating that it was due to “circumstances beyond their control.”
Customers of financial institutions which make use of internet, have confirmed the internet block in the main towns of Bamenda, Buea, Kumba, Limbe and Kumbo.
Shutting down internet connectivity, seems like a new trend by African leaders in the last two years, especially during election periods.
Recall that Gabon resorted to this measure after president Ali Bongo was re-elected by a slim margin for a second seven-year term in office.
Uganda also experienced social media crackdown in the days leading to the swearing in of president Yoweri Museveni for his controversial fifth term.
There are no indications as to when internet connection in the affected regions will be reinstated.