A United Nations envoy, François Louncény Fall, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa, has called on the Cameroonian Government to restore Internet in the English-speaking regions of the country.
For close to four months now, two of the major English-speaking regions – northwest and southwest – in the country have been without Internet.
This was the handiwork of the Government who “unplugged” the Internet – this was quite easy to achieve because it controls Cameroon Telecommunications (CAMTEL) – following mass protest in the regions bordering on marginalization by the French-speaking Government.
The shut down has affected online businesses in the regions; in fact, thirty days into the shut down, they had lost US$1.39 million. Individuals are also affected as they can’t communicate with friends and family.
“This is a deplorable situation,” Mr Fall said before leaving Cameroon on 13 April after a four-day official visit.
Having had meetings with Government officials and other concerned parties, Mr Fall stated he is “convinced that this important tool for development, communication and collective development will be gradually re-established throughout Cameroon.”
During the visit, Mr Fall also met Felix Nkongho Agbor Balla and radio broadcaster Mancho Bibixy, both arrested in connection with the mass protest.
Mr Fall welcomed the Government’s announced intention to restore Internet services in Bamenda for hospitals, universities and banks, but called for more to be done, and quickly too.
“I encourage the Cameroonian Government to take all the measures it deems appropriate, as soon as possible and within the framework of the law, in order to create conditions conducive to building the confidence needed to end the crisis,” he said.
Mr Fall will return to Cameroon at the end of May to attend the 44th ministerial meeting of the UN Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa. It is our hope that the Cameroonian Government has brought back the Internet in the regions before then.