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Cameroon’s Internet Outage Is Draining Its Economy

As many as 20 percent of the population is without access, and the service disruption is thought to be politically motivated.

On January 17, around 20 percent of the people in Cameroon found their Internet blocked.

By now connections have been down for some four weeks, and the outage is generally believed to be politically motivated. But the country must face up to a cold, hard fact: if it’s blocking its Internet, it’s damaging its own economy.

The block mainly affects the northwest and southwest parts of the country, which are primarily English-speaking. There’s been no official statement made by the country’s government about the outage, nor from providers such as Orange Cameroon, Nexttel, or Vodafone Cameroon.

But the BBC has reported that many Cameroonians believe the outage is an intentional move to block protesters in Anglophone areas. The affected regions have recently been the scene of several antigovernment protests: English-speaking citizens complain about a Francophile government that, they claim, is marginalizing them.

While the mechanics of the outage are unclear, the BBC notes that all Internet provision in the country is controlled by a state-owned company that operates the nation’s optical fiber.

If the government has simply shut off access to some parts of the country, it is likely to be making an economic mistake. Late last year, an analysis by Darrell West at the Brookings Institution showed that countries damage their economy significantly when they choose to shut down Internet services. In a single year, he calculated, 81 disruptions in 19 countries cost those economies a total of at least $2.4 billion.

Cameroon will be no different. Speaking to CNN, Otto Akama, who runs a technology hub called ActivSpaces in the southwestern city of Buea, said that the ban had brought many businesses to a standstill. “We have empty offices all over the city. All tech companies are down. Most banks are down and ATM machines are not working, so people don’t have access to cash,” he explained. Motherboard reports that some people are opting to make potentially dangerous journeys to ensure that they can send and receive messages.

The UN has urged the Cameroon government to restore Internet provision in the country. If that’s not enough, the economic weight of inaction may be.

MIT Technology Review

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31 comments

  1. The greatest fear of a gangster government is the advancement of technology. The most corrupt government on planet earth ? fears anyone walking around with an iPhone! In Cameroon police now have orders to arrest anyone with these devices! How backward can a people go? Recently, a group of gendarmes were sent by the government to break into a community center where young graduates were doing a research and because they needed internet service they managed to tap it from a neighboring region. The gendarmes named them terrorists and till this date none of the students are accounted for. Reliable reports are telling us that there are mass graves outside the city of Yaoundé near the university in a town called Soa. We call on the UN to open a commission of inquiry into these extra judicial murders of the Biya regime. Paul Biya’s government is a cancer for the people and there is only one cure for such malaise in Africa: bang bang bang ?. If the UN is not strong enough we call on Britain USA to arm us and stand with us! The only way you can defeat boko haram is if you get the dictators out! Some say we should dialogue but that’s what we have been trying to do for 35 years under a brutal repression. I wonder why there’s much focus on North Korea when Africa’s second genocide of the century is slowly brewing on the heart of the continent in a place called Cameroon. If you don’t want another Rwanda then get rid that 90year old dementiates mass of protoplasm called Paul Biya.

    • BIYA MUST GO ( BMG) Reserved

      **** QUOTE OF THE DAY ****

      “If you don’t want another Rwanda then get rid that 90year old dementiates mass of protoplasm called Paul Biya.” (Senator, 2017)

  2. The biggest joke of the century: NW +SW = 20% of the population of Cameroon . Lmfao literally rolling on the floor. Anyway it is our economy,we will recover in due time ,fore now peace ,safety and order are better than any economics metric . The internet was put in place by la République and la république removed it

    • Keep using the word URGE, we will see where that will end up.
      You urged Khadaffi to leave his country, you urged Gbagbo to surrender his power, you urged Saddham Hussein to leave his country , you urged Sudan to split, you urged Bashar al assad to leave his country . What is the result?
      You destroy the world for your imperialistic interest.
      Il you care about the well being and education of Cameroonians then do something about boko haram , report him , fight him. Those who are being slaughtered in the Northern part of Cameroon are also Cameroonians , they don’t even have time to think about freedom , they are fighting to survive , we do not hear a word from you.
      So get a hell out of our business , we will find our own way to handle our issues.
      Go and fix what you destroyed in Lybia, Iraq and Syria and come back to Cameroon.
      We know your agenda

    • Money from where? Did la République pay for it or used money from hydrocarbons? If it is such a big deal or otherwise insignificant, why not let them go? Do u love us sooooo much? What for? It is unrequited love. You cannot stop your wife/husband from leaving if the marriage has turned sour. Do u understand that??

      • No I don’t , where did we get married ? Lol this is not a marriage. If you want to secede, you will have to go through war.period you are not going anywhere,definitely not without paying the heavy price .

        • @ Pinguiss
          LRC is a weak country and it does not even have enough money to feed its army. The army & gendarmes are full of ill-trained cowards and bullies who spend all their time harassing, raping and murdering innocent civilians.
          If you visited Cameroon embassies e.g. the one in London, LRC had begging bowls asking ordinary citizens to donate money to help feed the army while Biya is hiding billions in Switzerland and France.

          If LRC wants a fight we will happily give them one. Remember the Israelis beat big Arab armies because they were fighting for their survival and were determined and courageous like the West Cameroonians. A separation fight might be to our advantage. We can seize Bafoussam, Douala and the neighbouring regions as compensation towards all the plundering of our resources by LRC.
          Hey Bring it On!

    • West Kamerun Ancestry

      Your comment shows how low the IQ of LRC people can be. What you’re literally saying is like burning down the rainforest to cook a pot of meal. How does internet blackout bring about peace? It instead fuels anger, more resistance, international outrage and revolution. Unfortunately for you economic recovery can not be performed by empty heads from ENAM, they’ll hire white mercenaries from France to inflict more damage. Well, it is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that LRC people consider to be a “chop-broke-pot.”

    • Population of CMR 23million
      Pop. of SW+NW=4million
      % of SW+NW = 4m/23m x 100/1 ? 20%

      Sometimes it’s good to figure things out before making comments

    • Population of CMR 23million
      Pop of SW+NW=4million
      % of SW+NW = 4m/23m x 100/1 ? 20%

      Sometimes it’s good to figure things out before making comments

      • @IAM4CHANGE, 60% of Cameroon’s resources comes from the regions of 4 million population of SW/NW, CMR population is merely too many people dependent on resources from the 4million and used wastefully by the corrupt, embezzling outdated regime, people living in slums and poverty,remember that without the SW/NW national resources, the country would never survive, again what would be if the SW/NW took charge of their 60% regional resources? sometimes it’s good to figure out before making comments.

        • Liar ! Check the report of the world bank about Cameroon economy 2016.

        • Correct, do you also know they will soon headquarter CDC in yaounde and SONARA is paying its taxes in Douala rather than in Limbe

          what happened to the limbe deep seaport project? rather kribi is underway…at times when you think of these things its so aching..at the police school in mutengene..do you know lessons are conducted in french and english speakers have to buy translated text

  3. West Kamerun Ancestry

    Your comment shows how low the IQ of LRC people can be. What you’re literally saying is like burning down the rainforest to cook a pot of meal. How does internet blackout bring about peace? It instead fuels anger, more resistance, international outrage and revolution. Unfortunately for you economic recovery can not be performed by empty heads from ENAM, they’ll hire white mercenaries from France to inflict more damage. Well, it is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that LRC people consider to be a “chop-broke-pot.”

  4. The paradox is that all these gangsters born in the 30s running the country aground will be the first to line up at the world bank and China to borrow the same amount they are losing now. What do you expect from thieves that see their source of loot being threatened? I mean these are people that celebrated the country’s admission into HIPC just to feast from debt cancellation. This country shall be separated the same way it was brought together. The embarrassment started yesterday at the Military Tribunal as incompetency pushed the adjournment of a functus officio – a court session that had no witnesses never had a preliminary hearing thereby dismissing grounds for any qualified trial. The struggle continues…..

  5. Cameroon military is a joke: 25,000 in total both active and reserve personal. And mind you the majority of these are unfit, poorly paid, pot belly good for nothings. Even Burundi has more than double.

    Active Front line personnel: 15,000
    Active Reserve personal: 10,000
    Tanks: 0
    Armoured fighting vehicles: 100
    Self propelled guns: 0
    Tower Artillery: 0
    Multiple launch rocket systems: 0
    Aircraft: 33
    Fighters: 0
    Fixed wing Attack Aircraft: 0
    Transport Aircraft: 17
    Trainer Aircraft: 16
    Helicopter s: 11
    Attack Helicopters:
    Aircraft carriers: 0
    Destroyers: 0
    Submarines: 0
    Coastal defense craft: 9
    Mine warfare: 0

    • Ba@ Should any country in the world have a army budget thats out of step with the civilian needs ? Cameroon has 24 million people who make a good job at being largely independent from the forces and it should stay that way apart from expropriating more Illegal fishing vessels and a better boarder alerting system for armed invading criminals ,the jane shopping manuel should be kept in the waste paper bin .

      • Maybe however all large companies operating in Cameroon could be paying an extra tax specifically to build up the civil engineers sector of the Army for natural disasters and the example of the horrific train crash which the army had the eqipment for and that type of equipment should be built up on .

  6. Rio dos cameroes Reserved

    The secret with clowns like pinguiss or pingfool is that, just go on with your point without replying the idiot. It makes him happy and enables him to become more stupid in comments when you reply. Biya you have failed and nothing will stop these people from freedom.

  7. speezy 4matic

    it’s funny to see all comments talking of striking,struggle etc…are not from Cameroon.so u are there peacefully wherewhere ever u are and inciting pple to fight LRC military…wuna no well ya..come cam fight…head goat!!!

  8. One and indivisible country but Anglophones without Internet for a month.
    High profile military trial without government witnesses
    Court proceedings in a bilingual country without English and a competent translator.
    Federalism and Secessionism are treasonous subjects today in country where the 1961 constitution of Federal Republic was manipulated to a United Republic in 1972 and Now Republic since 1984.
    Who is a terrorist in Cameroon? The Anglophones who are asking for the right to self determination after a proposed decentralization since 1996 that never happened ? Or the ruling class that has manipulated, changed, disregarded the constitution and ruled by decree only.
    ” I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves” Herriet Tubman!
    Advocates of the status quo in Cameroon are cultish in their defense of the indefensible.

  9. very illogical that we asked for a return to federalism but instead after killings and raping,la republic has offer scameroons internetr federalism instead.this clearly points that the much talk of one and indivisible is a farce.how can your colonial lord claim you one and indivisible if he doesnt gives you the rihgt and previleges of his citizens

  10. The problem in Cameroon is the system,not Biya imparticular. Becos,any Francophone who takes power after Biya will continue with the same system.Biya is serving France just like Ahidjo was.France masterminded the change of the form of the state in 1972 from federal republic to united republic and even republic of cameroon.Biya is just another l’homme neuf de la France like Ahidjo.

    France did not like the idea of re-unification in 1961 becos she was afraid that all the UPC nationalists who went on exile to Southern Cameroon will surface among Southern Cameroonians and spoil their show.But when oil was discovered in Ndian,France suddenly developed so much interests for Southern Cameroon and masterminded a second re-unification where as,Cameroon was already re-united in 1961.

    The problem is the system,not necessarily Biya,becos Biya is killing Southern Cameroonians just the same way Ahidjo was killing the UPC nationalist to favour his colonial master,France.

    But i bet them,this time they are going to lose.Becos,there is no compartibility between English and French.” ni federalisme,ni la seccession” bla bla bla….One and indivisible my foot”…….

    • BIYA MUST GO ( BMG) Reserved

      @KONGOSA,

      In Cameroon, Biya is the System.

      Like the biblical doctrine of the trinity ( Godhead) , Paul Biya is the executive branch, Paul Biya is the legislative branch and Paul Biya is the judicial branch.
      Biya is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” (Revelation 22:13)

      In sum, Paul Biya is a prisoner of his own policies and appetite for eternal power. He is unable to free himself and the nation from himself.

  11. the banana republic together with the outdated regime’s mentality is punishing the entire countries economy and people by deliberately shutting the internet in the anglophone regions in order to stop communication regarding the uprising by unarmed protesters, which still get out of the country in different ways, many civil servants in these regions are not able to do duties that they get paid for, the banks and businesses cannot do transaction,they are living in the old mentality,primitive days when most of the politicians running the country including the president was born with no technology, news about all the brutal atrocities, information on the crisis still gets out in the world via the cloud, the country’s technology is not modern enough to stop current affairs and information getting out of the country, the Yaounde pleasing government to biya, needs to acknowledge that this crisis is national,anglophones and francophones are Cameroonians, families are integration,the government is making things worst for themselves, now and in the future if it is not resolved quickly in a civilised manner, the government is using torture, silencing, court trials, deaths,imprisonments, kidnapping, which is dangerous to the country’s reputation world wide, Biya is showing the world that he is no different from Saddam.

    • Ndolloz @ Saddam invaded , Kuwait entirely for quite a few months and pushed his country to wage war twice against Iran ,these actions have not happened its not a realistic comparison ,im suprised your using it because your past discription on civil servents in a past comment was truly spot on .Cheers .

  12. AHMADOU AHIDJO Finland

    WE ARE BEING KILLED HERE AT HOME IN BRITISH SOUTHERN CAMEROON. IT IS GETTING WORSE. WE NEED TO TAKE THE STREET. WE MUST START IT ALL OVER AGAIN FROM START. WE ARE WINNING. WE MUST #BOYCOTT8MARCH #BOYCOTTWOMENSDAY THERE WILL BE MASSIVE ARREST ON WOMEN’S DAY BY POLICE AND GENDARMES, THE LA REPUBLIC HAVE SEND MORE TROOPS TO RANDOMLY ARREST ANYONE AT HOME AND ON THE STREET. WOMEN, DO NOT GO TO THE MARCH. YOU MIGHT COME HOME TO FIND YOU DAUGHTER(S) RAPED, YOUR SON(S) KILLED OR TAKING TO AN UNKNOWN LOCATION. THE CHOICE IS YOURS. TO TOTAL INDEPENDENCE.

  13. Must be very painful to be given the attractive name “Android Generation” provided with ultramodern laptops only to be greeted by an Internet blackout that pushes one to Misselele for South-Westerners and Babadjou for North-Westerners. Not too good for the economy.

  14. Voice of God China

    Pinguiss we Anglophones will pay the ultimate price and at last we will be free.Chairman Mao Zedong told Americans that they Chinese do not care to sacrifice 500 000 000 Chinese people just to drive away imperialist western influence .We Anglophones do not care to sacriffice 2 000 000 of our own just to seperate from you francophone animals.Hitler massacred 6 000 000 Jews.Today the Jewiah people have a coumtry of their own.A strong and prosperous country.In Rwanda Hutus massacred Tutsis but today a Tutsi is ruling Rwanda.If you pinguiss think that you Cameroun francophones have already conquered us then think twice because you cannot rejoice that you have won a war when the war is only beginning. Demons like yoi are foind all over the world but our God will surely put you to shame.It was not the Anglophones who shot down the military helicopter in the far North.The Anglopnes did not derail the train at Eseka.Anglophones did not cause the accident recently in Olembe .You have eyes but you cannot see.God will bring you and your wicked francophone government in Yaounde down to shame and disgrace.We are crying our dead brothers and the world is sympathizing with us.Any of our brothers you kill only goes to make our case stronger.The whole world knows how barbaric and uncivilized you are despite all your lies .Shame shame shame on you..

  15. No one seem to care whether kids in the two English speaking regions go to school or not. 3 months down the road, anglophones kids are not going to school and you open your dirty mouths talking about Internet. Shame on all of you!!

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