Government’s shutdown of internet in English speaking Cameroon for 76 days now has made life extremely difficult for millions of people in the country.
From cyber café owners, to students and business owners whose work heavily depend on the internet, the effects has been rippling.
Marc Stephan Nkouly, a digital consultant in Bamenda, one of the shutdown affected areas, says it has been very difficult to communicate online since even simple replies to email require a 75+ kilometre drive to the city of Bafoussam.
For Naiat Hycenth, a topography student at Enset bamenda and a part time engineer, the shutdown has been a veritable nightmare. Hycenth said he usually connects to the net all the days of the week for research purposes. “The blackout has stalled my educational aspirations”. He decries the government repressive method stating that it is the worst method so far in calming down a crisis.
While Ngoran Edward, a plumber recounts how the lack of internet has crippled his business. Ngoran says he used the internet for his research in plumbing innovation on YouTube and for his computer online training course. “Now I can’t do anything when I face difficulties in installing a plumbing accessory because I can’t access those online courses anymore”
In the same light, a Bamenda filmmaker, who prefers anonymity, reveals how the internet seizure has affected his business. “Most of my potential audience are abroad and also most of the research I use to do online to increase my skills have been impossible. Competitions organised by the UN and other organisations for young people have been rendered invincible due to lack of internet access”.
For his part, Joushua Ngadum says the shutdown has made him unemployed. “I don’t have work. I now idle around. I am a PhD student who makes a living out of the internet. I usually help other students with their research endeavours and they pay me afterwards. Candidly speaking, this internet interruption has gone a long way to further radicalise my views towards the government. Worst still, I need to occasionally destitute or further impoverish my needy status by moving into the neighbouring regions in order to seek for “internet asylum”; a struggle which has earned me and many others the appellation of an “internet refugee”.
While those in exceptionally need of Internet connectivity and who are forced beyond endurance to hunt for the high-tech communication technology in neighbouring cities are now tagged internet refugees, others have to contend with stalking police who confiscate phones in order to detect malicious content which threatens the security of the state..
The Internet stoppage has not just slowed down businesses but actually shut them down with associated heavy financial losses
Reports also say University students and lecturers in english speaking regions whose courses depend heavily upon the Internet are at a loss. “I don’t know what to tell you to do,” a lecturer is quoted as telling his students.