Since October 2016 the Teachers and Lawyers of the Anglophone region of Cameroon took to the streets for a peaceful protest through which they demanded for dialogue from the Cameroon government. The demands for a dialogue however did not quite meet up and the protest gave birth to several turns of events in this same Anglophone Regions. The most recent event was the cut of the internet service in this part of Cameroon. The government said people of this region are a threat to the nation’s security through their misuse of Social media. The question was why cut the internet entirely when the problem is with social media? Before we highlight to you the impact the internet cut has had on life in general in this region let us throw more light on the internet itself. A campaign was launched on twitter with hash tag #BringBAckOurInternet.
The internet is a medium with which we can view information from anywhere in the world. Documents from the World Wide Web and various other services such as instant chat, email are available through the internet. Most of the time, everyone thinks that the internet and the W3 are the same, however this is not true. The internet is a network of cables, which allow users to access information of various sorts.
Though the internet was available, it only became a household word in the year 1996. But at the beginning, the use of the internet was very expensive. Most of the users went to public centers to use the internet for a high price per hour.
As the use became more popular, there was an increase in the speed of the internet and also decrease in cost. Networks were planned, and looking at the money, many service providers entered the market. They made it very simple for all users, and the use of the internet became very cheap. Everyone at home could afford to get a connection, and now most users will have unlimited access as well.
This has made it possible for many people to benefit. Those who are unable to go out may get opportunities to work from home. Various other doors have been opened to the average human, and everyone has taken advantage of the creation. Almost every individual uses the internet where it is available, irrespective of age groups. This medium caters to the needs for all age groups.
The internet has made a lot of activities very easy. The medium is used for almost all purposes, even with important issues such as education and government organizations. It has come a long way from the use with only scientific organizations and institutes etc. There was a phenomenal growth in the years 1996 and 1997. The growth for the internet has been at around hundred percent per year.
Majority of the users use the English language for the internet, as computer development happened in America in all stages. There are other languages as well, such as French, German, Chinese and Arabic. Internet has also made life easy because we can view through various means.
Well, the goodies of the Internet have been far-fetched in the NW and SW region of Cameroon over two weeks now. Karawa Diary carried out a finding to see the impact of this internet cut on life in general in the two regions and we want to say that it is not so good. According to June 2016 survey by the Internet World Stats, 17.7% of the entire population of Cameroon use internet. The NW and SW regions make 20% of Cameroon’s population meaning they make up of about 4% of internet users or more. Sadly, these 4% have been out of internet access and the following is happening,
- Retarded Communication: As already read in the long text above, the internet is a platform through which communication is easily done. This can be seen in the fast growth of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and even chat platforms such as Whatsapp, Viber ,Emails and so on. These are very cheap communication platforms compared to telephone lines. It is sad to note that for the past two weeks or more, people residing in these regions have not been able to communicate via the internet. This part of communication has downplayed on most of the other sectors such as companies and business. I spoke with Mr Njingti who is an IT person and he said he has family out of the country and reaching them now is a lot more Challenging as international calls are very expensive unlike before where he just needed mobile data to make same call via whatsapp. If you are not sending a text message then you should be making a call. Access to information around the world is hard as only the TV or Radio can relay it to those who even have these devices[td_smart_list_end]
- Travelling Risk (Urban Migration): The absence of internet service has displaced several people for several reasons. We had the opportunity to get the experience of a young guy who travelled all the way from Buea to Douala to come withdraw money that was sent to him by Family based in the USA. On arrival in Douala and getting to the Bank, his sending information was not correct and he could not have the family correct it same day due to time difference and he had to travel back to Buea because he had no place to lodge in Douala. He took another trip to come and withdraw the money after rectifications were done. This is just one of a Million experiences. Dexter is a blogger who could not have his blog running where there is no internet and so he moved too. We also took note of the case of 7 final year medical students in Buea on their research program that finally ended up in hotels in Douala hence increasing the cost of their research for lack of internet service in Buea. Several tech companies found in these regions had to move to environments with internet availability to have their work going or risk shutting down. The movements of young people and company owners cannot be over emphasized.[td_smart_list_end]
- Fear for start-up Companies crashing: A couple of months ago, BBC and France 24 visited the tech hub of Buea called “Silicon Mountain”. Both channels labeled Buea as one of the fastest growing tech environment in all of Africa. The cutting of the internet in this very region has generated fear for the future of these startups. Karawa Diary spoke with the CEO of AfroVision and NJorku.com (the fastest growing Job Search engine in Africa) and he said as I quote “ When this happened I began to fear because already, it is very difficult for us to find investors in Cameroon for startups and when information such as this can go out that the Government can cut internet anytime then it just scares away even more investors.”
Mr Ayuk is CEO of Skylabase and inhabits several workers as well as intents. Skylabase functions with internet, No internet means little or no Income and it also means workers going idle and hungry. All these can only be signs and symptoms that the Longer the Internet stays on reinstated the faster the Startups crash and the more people become jobless and idle hence crime increase.
- Crippling the Economy: The role the internet has played on the country’s economy is very evident. Take for instance; Cameroon has 4 Network distributing companies, MTN, NEXTTEL, ORANGE and CAMTEL. These network distribution agencies for two weeks now have been making far lesser than they have been making since they got into the nation. This is so because with the absence of Internet, nobody finds the need paying for data which is one of the main money making platforms. Money in circulation has been very little except you have to travel out of the two regions to get Money from a Branch Bank. The Banks have not been functioning with ease, Cyber Houses shut down, Bills such as electricity bills to ENEO slow, Tax statements and several other businesses on pause for lack of internet service. If this goes on for another two weeks it will just cause more and more damage to the economy of the entire country.
- Risk of lost Data: It should be noted with dismay that several sectors store data for later use online and it is with the use of the Internet. Several health sectors including government owned do research work and assessment and update it to a system connected through the internet so that it can be visited all over the country at a later time if need be. This will not be a possibility with the absence of internet. Data not updated or recorded will either be faulty or invalid resulting to factors that might endanger lives. The risk to transfer a patient’s data to another hospital out of town to be accessed before getting the results sent later back to the hospital is putting a life at risk.
A young Cameroonian Tech Prodigy recently developed a cardio pad that could access a patient’s heart state and send it through the internet to a cardiologist in another hospital for interpretation and treatment. Of course it is useless in the NW and SW regions as far as that transmission of data is concerned. This is one of the numerous challenges that could be faced
The impact of the lack of internet as seen above cannot be over emphasized. West Cameroonians who are abroad and those who have access to internet launched an online campaign with Hash tag #BringBackOurInternet. Despite the online trend and the mentions made of it over international TV such as Aljazeera, Karawa Diary cannot still ascertain for sure if the Cameroon government intends to reinstate Internet service in these regions or not. However, it is very clear that the longer the lack of internet, the worse the situation becomes as lifestyle begins to change.
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