The Internet shutdown has cost service provider Orange Cameroon 20 per cent of its revenues, a senior official of the French firm disclosed.
Orange Group deputy Chief CSR Officer Yves Nissim made the disclosure during at the RightsCon 2017 summit in Brussels, Belgium on Thursday, on the cost of Internet cuts on service providers.
The Cameroon government on January 17 shut down Internet services to the English speaking Northwest and Southwest regions that make up 20 per cent of the country following months of protests.
The protests escalated into violence and the killing of civilians.
Mr Nissim said the company always makes sure shut down requests come from an authority who has enough power to do so.
According to him, security of the staff was at a risk, which was partly why they complied. Two Orange officials were arrested and taken to a police station.
The Africa Desk at the Internet Sans Frontières (Internet Without Borders) Africa Desk said it welcomed the “important disclosures from the company”.
The rights group said though it was aware of the challenges faced by Orange and others Internet service providers (ISPs) following the shut down, it questioned the Cameroon government’s argument that it was for security reasons.
“Who has checked the necessity and proportionality of the measure?
"In the case of Cameroon, has Orange and other operators assessed whether a judicial authority had a say on such restrictive order?" he posed.
As of September 2015, the Telecommunications Regulatory Board (TRB) of Cameroon reported that Orange controlled 37 per cent of the local mobile telephone network and Internet service market, while South Africa’s MTN controlled 57 per cent.
Others players include Vietnamese firm Viettel, which operates under the Nexttel brand with 5 per cent market share, and the state-owned Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel), the sole landline telephone operator in the country with about 2 per cent.