(Business in Cameroon) - Cameroon has long been presented as a hub in terms of telecom infrastructure in the Central African sub-region. The country is connected to five optical fiber submarine cables (SAT3, WACS, ACE, SAIL, and NCSCS). Yet it makes very little use of this equipment to develop its telecoms sector, as well as that of the sub-region.
In a recent report on the country’s digital industry, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) revealed that “only about 15% of the capacity of the SAT3 cable and 30% of the capacity of the WACS cable have been used since their launch 17 years ago.” As a reminder, the incumbent telecom operator in Cameroon Camtel signed an MoU on July 14, 2021, in Dubai with MTN GlobalConnect on the management of optical fibers in Cameroon. The deal allows MTN GlobalConnect to market four submarine optical fiber cables to which the country is connected. This is to ensure that the infrastructure is not only profitable but also contributes to the development of the country’s digital sector.
“MTN GlobalConnect will deploy its international sales force to assist Camtel in the commercialization of its four submarine cables in Cameroon and the sub-region, namely: SAT3, WACS, NCSCS, and the SAIL submarine cable that connects Cameroon to Brazil. These four cables managed by Camtel are essential infrastructures for the connectivity of the country and the sub-region. The partnership will accelerate digital transformation and allow Cameroon to position itself as a digital hub for the region,” the partners said in a statement released at the end of the signing ceremony.
The effectiveness of MTN GlobalConnect in marketing the submarine cables managed by Camtel should help reduce the “fiber gap”, which refers to areas where optical fibers are not yet deployed or not yet used. This would also help increase the penetration rate of fixed and mobile broadband internet in Cameroon, which has stagnated at 22% since 2016, according to the World Bank affiliate.
IFC says the gap still affects about 14 million people in Cameroon (in 2020) or more than half of the country's estimated population of about 25 million.
Brice R. Mbodiam