(Business in Cameroon) - Efforts by the Cameroonian government to accelerate digitalization in the country are bearing fruits. Over the past four years, the mobile Internet penetration rate in the country has doubled to reach 34%, the Minister of Telecoms, Minette Libom Li Likeng revealed recently.
“Over the past four years, the mobile broadband penetration rate in our country went from 18% to 39%, as a result of the various measures deployed to strengthen competition and regulatory accountability," she said, during the first-ever meeting of the Ministerial Alliance for Digital Nations, organized by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization from last February 21-22 in London.
To achieve this improvement, Minister Libom Li Likeng recalled, Cameroon has made significant investments in infrastructure, especially in fiber optics. The country is now connected to five submarine cables, making it the hub of telecom infrastructure in Central Africa. Currently,15,000 kilometers of fiber are deployed throughout the country.
The availability of this infrastructure, which allows access to broadband internet, coupled with the high mobile penetration (over 80%), has boosted the use of smartphones. According to the National Telecommunications Observatory of the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART), the penetration rate of these phones has increased from 25% in 2016 to nearly 40% in 2020, a 15% increase over 4 years.
Despite these strong advances, Cameroon still has many challenges to address. "Some areas remain uncovered and internet access has not yet reached universal coverage. Smartphone and internet prices seem relatively high, especially for low-income people. Like many other countries in the world, Cameroon is facing the challenge of a rapidly changing digital environment, which has rendered some of our regulatory and legal instruments obsolete," Minister Libom Li Likeng said, calling on partners to assist Cameroon on the path of development of the digital economy.
"The government of Cameroon is open to any form of partnership with other countries, organizations, and institutions of the Commonwealth, for the implementation of programs to ensure internet access to every Cameroonian, "she said.
Brice R. Mbodiam