Cameroon has restored internet services in its English-speaking areas on Thursday following a three-month ban due to protests. Residents celebrated the restoration when it was announced.
Issa Tchiroma Bakary, government spokesman who announced the lifting of the ban in a statement said: “The government urges the populations of these regions to be vigilant (and) to continue to nip in the bud the activities of extremists, secessionists, and enemies of the Republic.”
The ban was imposed because government alleged social media was used to spread false information. Anglophone Cameroonians who are 20% of the country’s 23,000 million population had protested alleged oppression and negligence by the Paul Biya’s administration.
The blackout crippled the economies of the two English-speaking regions, as business owners lamented its impacts.
Access Now, a digital advocacy society estimated the financial cost of the 94 days blackout as $4.5 million.
The United Nation Secretary General’s Acting Special Representative for Central Africa who called on authorities to turn on internet connections last week; has responded to Thursday’s development saying “Restored internet access in Cameroon will go a long way to reducing tension,” he said.
However, Libong Lili Keng, the country’s minister of posts and telecommunications said authorities would continue to monitor online usage to make sure there were no abuses even though services had been restored.
Foremost technopreneur, Rebecca Enochong in a tweet, condemned government’s decision to shut down the internet again if it deems necessary.
The free Southern Cameroon campaign welcomed the development but said more needs to be done including freeing arrested activists.