Internet access in Cameroon’s South West and North West regions has been completely cut off or severely slowed for a total of 206 days between January 16, 2017 and January 19, 2018, according to Quartz
Internet access in Cameroon’s South West and North West regions has been completely cut off or severely slowed for a total of 206 days between January 16, 2017 and January 19, 2018, according to Quartz.
The shutdown is part of a wider political strategy by the Cameroonian government to disrupt local activism in the Anglophone regions, which have been protesting against alleged injustices and economic depravity imposed by the dominant Francophone government.
The internet switch off followed the region’s declaration of independence and the formation of an interim government on October 1, 2017, which has led to an ongoing crisis and armed conflict.
Locals have since been using virtual private networks (VPN) to bypass the blockage and access the internet.
Internet connectivity has been intermittently and temporarily restored twice in the region, coinciding with visits from foreign diplomats from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Local journalists believe the temporary reinstatements are the government’s efforts to reassure international guests that there are no internet connectivity issues in the region.
In December 2017, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland visited Cameroon to discuss a solution to the ongoing crisis with religious, political and traditional leaders; residents reported 24hrs of smooth internet connectivity during the visit before again losing connection.
Similarly, the internet was switched on January 17-18, 2018 when the CAF visited Buea and Limbe to review the progress made on stadiums and facilities for hosting next year’s African Cup of Nations, the most high-profile sporting event on the continent.
During this time, residents reported normal internet access before it slowed and stopped on the evening of the 18th.
A WhatsApp message circulated during the latest foreign visit, advising internet users in the crisis region that the reinstatement was most likely temporary and not to uninstall VPNs from devices.