SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

In order for Cameroon to become an emerging country by 2035, it will require the application of science and technology to get solutions for the many economic, social and environmental challenges.

According to the World Factbook of the US Central Intelligence Agency, Cameroon had 1.1 million internet users in 2012, which is 5.5 percent of the total population. Cameroon ranked 113th in the World. The number of internet users had gone up from 985,565 in 2011 and 749,600 users in 2009. On top of that, Cameroon had 10,207 internet hosts in 2012 and was ranked 134th in the world. In 2008 the country had only 69 hosts. These show an improvement in the country’s internet services.

Also, in relation to Communications, according to 2012 figures (CIA World Factbook), there were 737,400 fixed phone lines in use compared to 13.1 million mobile phones. Presently, Cameroon has four mobile communication companies against two in 2010.

In terms of ICT Infrastructure, there is a SAT-3 marine cable inward with access points in Douala (main one), Limbe (WACS) and Kribi (ACE). There is a national backbone of over 6,000 km of fibre optic cable laid down and financed by the Chinese Government. There is a fibre optic loop in Douala and a second being laid in Yaounde. Cameroon is linked to Chad with a fibre optic cable under the Central African Backbone (CAB) project. VSAT Internet is widely used. The feasibility study for establishment of a National Internet eXchange point (IXP) was financed by the World Bank. The Government of Cameroon is currently establishing the national IXP and the project is expected to be finished during Q1 of 2015. There are 60 operational telecentres, 110 being put into service and 15 under construction.

In order to push Cameroon to achieve vision 2035, the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya in his Economic Emergence Action plan made mention of two technological aspects which are to increase the supply of social and telephone communication (fixed-line and mobile) and ensuring high-speed internet access and social networks. In this regard, in 2014, the Cameroonian government obtained 60 percent ownership of the Limbe West Africa Cable System (WACS) that was initially owned by MTN Cameroon. The FCFA 14 billion project is set to increase internet penetration that could be exported to landlocked countries like the Central African Republic by ten percent. Government’s acquisition of the Limbe WACS station adds to the Douala landing station, which went operational in 2002 and linked to the SAT-3 submarine cable. Meanwhile, in a drive to make Cameroon a regional ICT connectivity hub, CAMTEL has announced its intention to construct a Kribi (Cameroon) to Fortaleza (Brazil) submarine cable link.

Success

Kiro'o Games aka Kiro'o Studios founded in 2003 by a Cameroonian, Madiba Olivier is making huge gains financially and also gaining popularity. As of April 10, 2015, Kiro'o Games announces the closing of its investment funds of 182,504 euros and is projected into the future of becoming an actual company. Kiro'o Games is privately held video game, animation, development and publishing company based in Cameroon and headquartered in Yaounde, Cameroon. Kiro'o Tales is currently working on finalizing the finishing touches on the upcoming Action-RPG Aurion Legacy of Kori-Odan. As of March 7 the game has successfully been Greenlit by Steam software to distribute the game.

Cameroonian born Arthur Zang invented the patented touchscreen Cardio Pad. He has invented what is believed to be Africa’s first medical tablet, which will allow health-care workers in rural areas to send the results of cardiac tests to heart specialists via a mobile-phone connection.

Also, "GiftedMom" created by Alain Nteff uses mobile phones to remind pregnant women when to come for antenatal care and alert mothers on vaccination schedules for their infants. It is believed to help reduce maternal and child deaths in Cameroon.

Academia, locally developed software from Cameroon’s lone tech hub ActivSpaces in its first year of launch with a low budget strikingly garnered over 25 secondary schools within a month of release and have proven to be effective. Despite its difficulty to configure, the software was found very easy to use that even computer-shy teachers were able to get on board and were soon hands free.

Acad_design The team reports to be already working on another release which will fix the issues of the first release. Cameroon will need to continue to motivate its SME’s especially those in the tech scene, to continue to motivate them so that they can be the drivers of such ICT solutions in its various sectors as their role is central to an emerging economy.

New information and communications technologies (ICT), in particular high-speed internet, are changing the way companies do business, transforming public service delivery and democratizing innovation. This has improved the working and living conditions of both customers and employees of the banking and health sectors.

Market information, financial services, education and health services which have largely been unavailable in the past due to lack of connectivity is very much on the rise. The use of websites has served as a connection for most Cameroonian companies to the world at large.  

Problems Faced

Despite all these developments, it is argued that Cameroon is missing out on the 21st century technological advances.

Among general problems relating to Internet infrastructure, Cameroon specifically faces some major problems. There is an in issue with the poor quality of telephone lines. Efforts are currently made to improve underground lines, mostly in big towns. And there is a lack of qualified technicians to run TCP/IP networks.