Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cameroon ends internet shutdown in English-speaking regions on orders of President Paul Biya

Businesses such as this one were badly hit by the internet ban

Internet services in Cameroon's English-speaking regions have been turned back on three months after they were cut off following protests.

People were delighted when online access was restored in both regions on Thursday at around 19:00 GMT, a BBC correspondent in Bamenda reports.

Before the ban, authorities had warned mobile phone users they faced jail for spreading false information.

Communications and the economy were badly affected by the shutdown.

Anglophone Cameroonians make up about 20% of the country's 23 million people. The other regions of the country are predominately French-speaking.

Excited groups gathered in the city centre to share the news with each other on Thursday night, as passing cars honked their horns in celebration.

Students, those working in the financial sector, and businesses who sell products online say they suffered hugely during the ban.

Cyber-cafes which were forced to close are now reopening.

My own work and family life were affected.

I had to make a four-hour round trip to a neighbouring region every time I wanted to send radio reports to my editors.

There are those who see this as the first step towards resolving tensions between the government and the Anglophone community.

Some are encouraging their friends to be less outspoken on social media to avoid another shutdown.

But others are still angry and say the release of three leaders of the Anglophone protests and 30 others who are still detained should be the priority.

Prominent Cameroonian entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong welcomed the news on Twitter, using the#BringBackOurInternet hashtag, which had been employed by many to pressure the government to lift the ban.

TWITTER*

Others celebrated being able to use social media once more:

TWITTER*

Workers in Cameroon's tech hub, known as Silicon Mountain, had to relocate to areas where the internet was still available.

Anglophone Cameroonians in the North-West and South-West regions had been protesting over marginalisation and the imposition of French in their schools and courts.

Announcing the lifting of the ban, the government said it reserved the right to "take measures to stop the internet once again becoming a tool to stoke hatred and division among Cameroonians".

North-West and South-West are Cameroon's two English-speaking regions

Source: BBC

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