The Republic of Cameroon is situated in Central Africa, sharing boundaries with Nigeria to the west, Chad to the northeast, Central African Republic to the east, Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to the south with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest. It is a unitary state, with a surface area of 475,442 square km, made up of ten regions subdivided in to fifty-eight (58) divisions and further subdivided into 375 districts currently in the process of decentralisation. The population as at July 2018 is estimated at 24,640 million inhabitants with a literacy rate of 75% (CIA World Factbook). 54.6 percent of the total population is between 15 and 64 years of age. Yaounde, the capital city, has a population of 3.412 million (2018) and Douala has a population of 3.656 million (2018). The official languages are English and French.
Cameroon is called Africa in miniature due to its strategic geographical location, diversified culture (over 240 tribes composed of Bantus, Semi-Bantus, Soudanians, Hamites and Semites), two main religions: Christianity and Islam, climate (tropical and humid in the south and dry in the north with two seasons), vast equatorial forest found in most African countries. Its natural resources include: Petroleum, Bauxite, iron ore, timber and hydropower.
In relation to Communications, according to July 2017 figures (CIA World FactBook), there were 699,055 fixed phone lines in use compared with 19.7 million mobile phones. There were 6.12 million Internet users as at June 2017, representing 25.0% of the population. This increase is due to the introduction of 3/4G technologies and availability of low cost smart phones at national level.
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 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 commenced establishing of the national IXP in 2015 and the implementation phase is now completed. The two IXPs in Douala and Yaounde will be operational once the official inaugeration is done during Q4 2017. There are 150 operational tele-centres, with a further 30 being put into service and 16 under construction.
There are eight public universities (University of Yaounde I; University of Douala; University of Dschang; University of Buea; University of Yaounde II; University of Ngaoundere; University of Maroua and University of Bamenda), over 180 private institutions for Higher Education and several laboratories.
The Republic of Cameroon has recognized that ICTs must be integrated in realising projects in various sectors (education, health, agriculture, economy, energy etc.)
In September 2005, a sectoral strategy of Posts, Telecommunications and ICT together with the sector policy statement relating thereto was finalized in a bid to influence the trends towards reducing the proportion of poverty in half by 2015 with the following objectives:
- increase the fixed (of 0.7% in 2005) and mobile (of 15% in 2005) teledensities to 30% and 50% in 2015;
- provide 20,000 villages with modern telecommunications facilities by 2015;
- multiply by 50, the number of direct and indirect jobs in the field of telecommunications and ICT by 2015.
The evaluation conducted at the end of 2015 determined that teledensity was 84% for mobile; 5% for Fixed lines and 7% Internet. For the past decade in Cameroon, more than 20,000 jobs have been created directly or indirectly in the ICT sector.
The implementation of this strategy was underpinned by the following three pillars:
- Adapting and updating the legal, regulatory and institutional framework;
- Improving service delivery in quantity, quality, and affordable;
- Increasing the use of ICT and density the industrial fabric of ICT companies
The ICT sector has undergone a process of liberalization since the promulgation of Law No. 98/014 of 14 July 1998 governing telecommunications in Cameroon.
While individual Ministries are responsible for different aspects of development, deployment and exploitation of ICTs (e.g. Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Trade, National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies - ANTIC, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and Telecommunications Regulatory Board, National Centre for the Development of Computer Services), the Presidency of the Republic defines and sets guidelines for National ICT policy, the Prime Ministers' Office is responsible for monitoring implementation of the ICT policy and the National Assembly has a legislative responsibility, responsible for voting ICT related laws. A committee was set up in August 2009 by a Prime Ministerial decree creating a pilot Committee for monitoring the putting in place of the National Strategy for the Development of ICT headed by the Minister of Post and Telecommunications.
Established in 2002 (Decree No 2002/92 8 April 2002) and according to Law No. 2010/013 (21 December 2010) governing electronic communications and Law No. 2010/012 (21 December 2010) related to cyber security and cyber criminality in Cameroon, the National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ANTIC) has the role to promote and monitor government activities in the area of ICT. Its responsibilities include: developing and monitoring the implementation of the ICT national development strategy; ensuring the harmonization of technical standards; proposing technical references in order to facilitate interoperability among information systems and regulating the sector; providing expertise to government services for design and development of their technical projects; coordinating the establishment and monitoring of Internet, Intranet and Extranet sites for the state and public institutions; contributing to the technical training of trainers for universities, high schools, colleges, teacher training colleges and primary schools; and participating in the training of the state personnel in ICTs by making recommendations on the content of the technical training and on the programmes of professional and competitive examinations. It is also responsible for the regulation, control and monitoring of activities related to the security of electronic communication networks, information systems and electronic certification on behalf of the Government of Cameroon. Following the Presidential Decree of 09 December 2011 re-organising the Cameroonian government, ANTIC reports to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication.
Due to insufficient consultation and coordination amongst stakeholders involved in these sectoral and ministry initiatives, ANTIC was tasked with formulating a National Policy for the Development of ICT, which implements "some provisions of the Constitution, the Investment Code, education sector laws, major guidelines of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (which has been reviewed and resulting in the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper) and honour commitments made by Cameroon with regards to global poverty reduction efforts (Millennium Development Goals, Education for All, Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, etc.)". It was validated by the Head of State, His Excellency President Paul Biya in January 2007 and it aims to provide:
- A comprehensive framework for ICT development in line with national objectives;
- A consultation and action framework for collaboration by the public sector (government) with the private sector, civil society and development partners;
- A framework for coordinating government action and external support, notably from the Digital Solidarity Fund.
It was further revised in September 2009, with the main objective to operationalise the strategic priorities identified new emphases on the consistency between programs and ICT projects and the government strategy outlined in the National Objectives Framework (NOC). The review exercise identified twelve prioritized programs based on the following seven strategic pillars retained from the National Strategy for ICT Development: (i) Building Human capacities, (ii) Improving the legal, regulatory and institutional framework, (iii) Strengthening the rule of law and sovereignty, (iv) Infrastructure development, (v) Development of social sectors through the use of ICT, (vi) Modernizing the public service and (vii) Development of an ICT industrial sector. The revised National ICT and Telecommunication Strategy is due for adoption in Q1 2015.
According to Law No. 2010/012 (21 December 2010) related to cyber security and cyber criminality in Cameroon, ANTIC has the mandate to secure the Cameroonian cyberspace:
- Annual audit of Information systems of Institutions (public and private), which include: Telecommunication operators, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), financial institutions (Banks, micro-finances, Insurance companies, Money transfer companies and eCommerce companies)
- Under the National Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), ANTIC is the Root Certification Authority (CA) and the Government CA. This is the only PKI system legally recognised in Cameroon. The center was funded by South Korea and biometric passports are being produced.
In 2015, a new Minister of Post and Telecommunication was appointed, and a new strategy was developed known as "Cameroon Digital Economy Strategy". This strategy was adopted in late 2016 with the aim of having a digital economy by 2020.
According to the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, after the liberalization of the Telecommunications sector, Cameroon presently has four major telephone network operators offering several services (MTN, Orange, CAMTEL & Nexttel), which influenced the increase of the number of active mobile phone subscribers. At the end of 2016, Cameroon's Telecommunication Regulatory Board estimated market penetration rates in Cameroon's telecoms sector to be: mobile (80%), Fixed/fixed-wireless (1.4%) and Internet (25%). Nexttel, Vietnam's telecom operator commenced activities in September 2014 and all the teleco operators are rolling out a 3/4G network in the country.