Cameroon's President, Paul Biya, has ordered that Internet access be restored to the affected English-speaking North-West and South-West regions of the country.

This comes after over three months since Cameroon's government ordered telecommunications companies to shut down the Internet in the English-speaking regions after protests erupted mainly by Cameroon's English-speaking community which felt it was being sidelined.

The Internet shutdown, which started in January 2017, was ordered by Cameroon's government, with a letter from the Director-General of CAMTEL, Cameroon's national telecommunications and Internet service provider stating that the Internet was shut down following orders from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

Camtel letter

Cameroon government letter detailing measures taken to ensure that operators cooperate in state-sanctioned Internet shutdowns

The letter read:

For the attention of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications

Subject: Suspension of internet services in certain sensitive regions

Madam Minister

I have the honor to inform you that following your instructions, CAMTEL has made all necessary arrangements for the suspension referred to above. However, it happens that some operators have not exactly followed your recommendations.

I personally mobilized a team to the CAMTEL sites in the cities of Yaounde, Douala, Kribi and Limbe between Tuesday 17 January 2017 at 20h30 and Wednesday 18th January 2017 at 01h30 in order to coercively enforce your mentioned instructions.

This operation resulted in the suspension of internet service for all internet service providers (ISPs) throughout the country. After a firm commitment by these different partners to respect the measures taken in close collaboration with the Government, the service was restored.

We have noted that some operators such as MTN, offer internet service to other suppliers such as CREOLINK, VODAFONE and AFRIMAX, and this is within the margin of the regulation in force. Investigations are under way for the VIETTEL case.

Moreover, this clearly raises the problem not only of the control of internet services at the level of the different access points for submarine fibre-optic cables and satellite access, but also of the need to acquire modern tools that can guarantee our sovereignty.

Please accept, Madam Minister, this expression of my highest consideration.

The Director General, Cameroon Telecommunications (CAMTEL)

The Internet shutdown didn't go unnoticed with notably David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur, and the UN itself condemning the shutdown and requesting Cameroon's authorities to restore Internet access in the affected regions.

It will come as a relief for those who have been affected by the lack of Internet access for over three months in areas like Bamena, where people have spoken about how the Internet shutdown has affected their work and daily life.

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