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Cameroon on alert as separatists threaten to target telecommunications infrastructure

By , Freelance Investigative Journalist
Cameroon , 19 Jan 2021

Cameroon authorities are on high alert following threats by separatists to sabotage telecommunications infrastructure and disrupt the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) 2020 football tournament in Limbe, located in the restive English-speaking part of the country.

In a memo sent to military chiefs in the region, a copy of which has been seen by ITWeb Africa, the Minister of Defence Joseph Beti Assomo said there was credible intelligence that “separatist terrorists” were planning to sabotage critical telecommunications infrastructure.

He mentioned the possible destruction of towers belonging to MNOs including Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel), MTN Cameroon and Orange Cameroun.

According to Beti Assomo separatists also wanted to obstruct the broadcast of Group D matches from Limbe involving Guinea, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia.

The Minister called for greater vigilance and has instructed military chiefs in the troubled region to ensure that the targeted infrastructure is secured.

The latest threat comes after separatist fighters carried out similar acts of vandalism on telecommunications network infrastructure in the region.

Since 2016, when the conflict erupted, MTN, Orange, Nexttel and Camtel have recorded significant damages to their infrastructure in the region. MTN Cameroon said over 200 of its transmission sites had been fully or partially affected by the conflict.

In a report dated December 2019, the Cameroon Employers’ Organisation (GICAM) stated that telecommunications infrastructure worth over FCFA 567-million had been destroyed.

The industry has also lost pre-tax turnover of more than FCFA 25-billion since the conflict started.

GICAM says telecommunications remains one of the hardest hit in the long-drawn conflict, “with the systematic destruction of antennas, transmission sites and a geometric fall in turnover.”

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