Businesses in Cameroon have lost over $1.39 million as the internet shutdown in the country enters a fourth week, a coalition of rights organisations monitoring the outage disclosed.
The government ordered the suspension of internet services to the English speaking Northwest and Southwest Cameroon, since January 18 as a lawyers’ and teachers’ strike escalated into violence.
In a letter to the Cameroon telecom firms, Access Now said the conservative estimate did not take into account the long-term effects such as the disruption of supply chains and the significant amount of remittances that Cameroonians living abroad sent to the affected regions.
The lobby group said it had earlier informed the government that the shutdown violated human rights.
“Businesses, too, have the responsibility to respect human rights, and mitigate or remedy harms they cause or contribute to,” Access Now said in a letter to MTN Cameroon CEO Philisiwe Sibiya, NextTel CEO Nguyen Duc Quang and Orange Cameroon CEO Elisabeth Medou Badang.
“We write to urgently request your support in restoring internet access in the South West and North West regions of Cameroon. We ask that you publicly identify the steps you are taking to restore access to the internet in Cameroon,” the letter reads.
The mobile voice and data services companies had yet to officially comment on the statement.
MTN Cameroon, a subsidiary of the South Africa telecom giant, is the dominant network in country, controlling 51 per cent market shares.
France’s Orange, which is one of the largest networks in the world through its local subsidiary, Orange Cameroon, controls 35 per cent market share.
“We recommend that you jointly push back against the government demand, through all legal and policy tools at your disposal, in order to restore internet access,” the rights organisations urged.