The controlled supply of internet to the population of the North West region since September 29, 2017 has raised concerns over free speech in Cameroon. According to many city dwellers, the absence of internet on mobile phones in Bamenda is an outrageous government interference generating concerns that authorities are curbing free speech particularly by advocacy groups or individuals who use the digital world for campaigns.  
There has been no government declaration on the subject but the 93days internet shutdown at the start of the year advancing security reasons during civil unrest still remains vivid to internet users.
Though mobile internet services are not available in the region, a few individuals with non-mobile options have internet access.
Speaking during a news conference in Bamenda Wednesday October 4, 2017, an SDF Stalwart Felix Teche Nyamusa accused the government of being responsible for the internet “shutdown.” The SDF militant who presents himself to anyone who case to listen as “SDF Presidential Hopeful pending primaries” castigated the government’s decision as an attempt to stifle a free press or freedom of expression.
Colbert Gwain a Bamenda based internet rights activist corroborating Teche Nyamusa described the entire situation in the NW as a shutdown. Gwain justified his stand explaining that international norms describe internet shutdown as “an intentional disruption of internet” This he explained renders internet inaccessible or effectively unusable, often to exert control over the flow of information. Going by the position of the activist who spent time during the first ever internet shutdown in the region to campaign for internet reinstatement, the fact that some people cannot have access to the internet is a threat to free speech.
The internet suspension incidents come with the civil unrest which has included protests by the Anglophone Community calling for a review on the form of state or outright independence. The earlier shutdown, which the government claimed was necessary for maintaining public order, typically happened without official explanation but the most recent comes just after Post and Telecommunications Minister disclaimed social media post that there would be internet shutdown.   The Internet disruption has lasted several days. It has so far incited little dissent in the concerned regions apart from frustration expressed by internet users.
"These things leave you feeling like you don't know what's going on," said Cliff Yenla, a teacher in one of the primary schools in Bamenda, after a four-day internet shutdown.


The internet service control in the city started September 29 as October 1 approached with possible clashes between locals and police that will happen leaving many dead and injured.
Derick BAKAH

Derick BAKAH

Bakah Derick is a Broadcast Presenter and Multimedia specialist with focus on sharing with the rest of the world the daily happenings in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. You can contact us on +237 675460750 or debakah2004@gmail.com.

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