Thursday, February 4, 2016

ICT Communities, Training of ICT Professionals and development of the ICT sector in Cameroon : A Brief Analysis


          Recently, Cyprien Tankeu  mentor of the Google Developer Groups (GDG) (one of the most popular ICT communities in cameroon), chapters in francophone African contries was acknowlegded for his work in an article written by  Dzekashu MacViban  in  IDG connect .
Cyprian Tankeu (standing during a wikithon at the Goethe Institute Yaounde in 2015) is a computer scientist and GDG mentor for Francophone african countries. His professional developement is deeply enrooted in the emmergence of ICT commuities in Cameroon. Especially the Google developers Group (GDG) /Photo Didier De Masso

His interview with Dzekashu MacViban gives a precised account of the history and role of ICT communities (ICT communities are also called Tech Communities in cameroon)  in Cameroon. In this article we define ICT communities are communities of interest and practice. So, even if the experience of Cyprien Tankeu relates solely to the GDG's, it enables a fine analysis of the place ICT communities have in the world of work (ICT sector) in Cameroon. It is worth noting that at the end of 2014 there were 14 GDG's (GDG Yaoundé, GDG Douala, GDG Ebolowa, GDG Dschang, GDG Foumban, GDG Maroua, GDG Bambili, GDG Nkongsamba, GDG Limbe, GDG Buea, GDG Bamenda, GDG Ndéré, GDG Bandjoun and GDG Bagante) in eight regions of Cameroon. This number makes Cameroon to lead francophone African countries with Google Developer Groups. In terms of Google communities in Africa, Cameroon ranks third. There are many other ICT/Tech communities in Cameroon namely :  Linux Land Cameroon, Ubuntu Cameroon, Mozilla Cameroon, Java User Groups. It is very relevant to undertand why GDG's or ICT communities are increasing in Cameroon

        The creation of ICT communities seems from first analysis to have emulated several developers, students of computer science, and other IT professionals to be more sensitive of the role ICT has for community and national development. Since then there has been a more oriented practice of computer science.. This intention put forward in ICT communities strongly demarks itself from the largely theoretical and out-dated teachings in universities and professional training institutions. The major characteristic of ICT communities in Cameroon is that they are at the same time communities of practice and interest. Merging professionals and non-professionals They are laboratories for students to come and experiement and learn.ICT communities in Cameroon are in fact potent learning communities It is important to pinpoint the role ICT communities have had in making ICT and Kulture a reality. The idea of ICT and Kulture became real after attending the Barcamp Cameroon (so far the oldest ICT/IT community in Cameroon) in 2012 in Yaoundé at the Goethe Institute. Only passion for ICT was enough to plunge us into this fantastic world. Therefore, ICT communities gathers , ICT lovers, passionate and professionals. It is important in this article to understand how the rise of ICT communities is linked to an increase or decrease of computer science/ICT training institutions. In other words, is there a significant relationship between training of ICT professionals scientists and the increase in the number of ICT/IT communities in Cameroon? 
Conference at the Muna Foundation, Yaounde Tueday 2-02-2016 on the publication of the results of an independent study aimed at classify professional institutions of training in cameroon my managers/ Photo Didier Demasso
       Answering this/these question(s) requires us to have a precise view of the landscape of professional/vocational training institutions in Cameroon teaching and training computer scientists, IT engineers, computer science teachers, briefly IT/ICT professionals. Chaning Consulting and Services  at a conference last Tuesday 2nd organised at the Muna Foundation in Yaoundé presented the results of a study on the perception of operation managers on the quality of training offered by professional training institutions in Cameroon under 25 domains. Chaning consulting’s results is an independent ranking of Higher education institutions for vocational training all over Cameroon, SUP-PRO RANKING 2015 Edition. The presence of the Ministry of Higher Education Prof. Jacques Fame Ndongo and representatives of GICAM and ECAM indicate the relevance on the one hand of the study in underpinning the quality of  training for a more competitive and productive work force and job market in Cameroon.


The Presence of the Minsiter Of Higher education and GICAM and EICAM in this study shows the relevance of quality Vocational and professional training in Cameroon for a more competitive world-of-work. Photo Didier De Masso







          The results of the SUP-PRO RANKING were obtained for the regions of Cameroon. 1090 operation managers were interviewed and asked to rank 1190 professional higher institutions of training in 25 domains of activity. The results show that there are about 136 professional training institution offering computer sciences all over Cameroon. From the results computer science professional training institutions account for  the highest number (11.43 %) of professional training schools in Cameroon

            The Core ICT indicators published by ITU et al (2005) lists four indicators of ICT for development: i) ICT infrastructure and access (ii) access to, and use of, ICT by households and individuals (iii) use of ICT by businesses and (iv) ICT sector and trade in ICT goods.  The last indicator (ICT sector and trade in ICT goods) is of interest since it relates to our analysis. Since this indicator is made up of sub-indicators which involve the relationship between training and the world of work ( ICT sector). It is clear that Cameroon’s ICT sector is not as well organised as the standards would expect. However, the rise of ICT communities and high number of training institutions has attracted our attention. Do these two variables imply that the ICT sector in Cameroon is developing? There are strong reasons to believe so. Especially with the advent of mobile telephony.  Notwithstanding, within the sociocultural context of Cameroon, the cultural factor greatly influences the use of ICT for development. Therefore the expectancy of seeing a significant relationship between the number of ICT training institutions and an increase of ICT communities with the development of the ICT sector is reduced and might be hampered. The cultural factor seems to greatly impact on all the processes involved in the training and  immersion into the world-of-work. Another hindrance too might be the quality of education of the IT/ICT professionals. Are they trained to solve real-life problems in line with the Cameroonian context? These question needs to be answered.

            From the perspectives of vocational guidance and career education, one of the merits of the study albeit a few of its methodological loopholes (e.g sampling techniques, control of extraneous variables such as desirability quotient and culture,)  is that it will really awaken within the Cameroonian context a more concrete reflection on the quality of training of professional schools and the impact it can have in the world-of-work today. Moreover, it is indirectly shedding light on the meaning and nature of professions and vocations in an emerging Cameroon by 2035.  Thus The role the ICT communities have both for professional development and training can be thought of as very relevant in a context such as that of Cameroon where professions related to ICTs/IT are still very underexploited.

References

ITU et al (2005) Core ICT indications: partnership on  measuring  ICT for Developement
Chris Westrup, Saheer Al Jaghoub, Heba El Sayed, Wei Liu  ( 2002). Taking Cultures Seriously : ICTs, Culture and Developement. 
Frank, T.,  Leslie, H., Rosemarie, G.,   Peter, H., and   Chantal, G.  In Haddon, (Ed.) (2005) International Collaborative Research.  Cross-cultural Differences and Cultures of Research, COST,
Brussels  Cultural Factors Shaping the Experience of  ICTs:  An Exploratory Review

Monday, January 25, 2016

Cameroon's Cultural and Artistic Seasons : A Drive for its Cultural Diversity and Potential

   
       
African culture yesterday and today.cameroon is africa in miniature Photo Didier De Masso

        Cameroon is a multicultural and multilingual country.It is Africa in miniature. This uniqueness enables  a variety of possible potentials to be expressed and used for human developement. It is only within cultural diversity that true innovation can sprout. Culture (language, arts and technology) is an important aspect of human developement. It is at the base of certain forms of human behaviour it been itself a type of behaviour and a potent source of social and economic developement. Not only is man a social being but he is a cultural being. Our personal identity is deeply affected by the cultural factor. We are thus not just the product of our genes but of our culture in a historical sense. Following the waves of human evolution posited by Alvin Tofler long time ago. mankind is now experiencing the third wave of its evolution : the Digital age. This new culture charcterised by information production , technologies of  communication and information production is evidence of man's superiority over other creatures in the animal kingdom.Since human evolution is now a cultural one , the need to be sensitive to Culture and cultures ought to be a vital aspect of all citizens of  the world.We could call that a form of intercultural or transcultural dialogue. It is for this reason that ICT and Kulture's mission is to celebrate culture in all its diversity. A world without culture is void of all these things we love : music , arts such as photography, literature , cinema , theather. Culture brings us closer to God in the sense that it unleashes a powerful spiritual tendency. It unifies our goodness and joyfullness. In the creative process we become aware of our humaness and its potential. As artists and yes we all are in some way via the creative way we think,talk,  and the creative way we make things. We are all senstive to culture that is why we need it. In cameroon culture is a pivotal element in the social life of people. Even if  the government has not really done its maximum to make it a source of developement, Nonetheless, Culture in cameroon is very important.

musical culture is a very unique feature of  traditional cameronians. Traditional musician from the North of cameroon. photo Didier De Masso


Duala traditional chiefs during a traditional ritual, Douala, 2015. photo Didier De Masso

African culture is intimately linked to the practice of religion or the belief in a superior being. Cultural aspects of  religious beliefs in cameroon are revealing of the power of culture on religious beliefs. Here a performance at the Goethe Institute during the 100th anniversary of WW1 . Photo Didier De Masso

         As the cultural and artsic session started in Cameroon this year 2016, during, a press briefing at the conference hall of the Ministry of Arts and Culture on the 14th January 2016, the intentions of  the Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi  were limpid : The emergence of Cameroon as envisioned in its political and socio-economical backbone is rooted in cultural diversity. In fact, the theme of the cultural re-entry is " Cultural Foundations and Challenges of Emergence" . As he said , " this approach is inspired by the emergence of cameroon by the year 2035". Therefore, from the 19th to the 22nd Jaunuary 2016 , a series of activities  were organised to mark the opening of this session in Yaounde, Cameroon. This is very important as it will expose in the coming months Cameroonians to a variety of cultural expressions and manifestations.
With globalisation Cameroonian music evolves too. Young slammer performing during the science slam event at the Goethe Institute. Photo Didier De Masso

Cultural expressions are varied in cameroon and are encysted in all activities. here students at the Yaounde 2015 University games. Photo Didier De Masso

        This event  implies that culture is cameroon is going to take a new turn. We believe strongly in the role cultural diversity can bring. We love Culture, we love cultural diversity,  we love arts and we think that our cultural epoch is a unique opportunity in mankind's history to experience cultural diversity. Not only we have the means but the ways : The ICT-Kultur ! 


The ICT-Kultur is a very powerful culture nowadays that affects the way we think , feel and act. The first Cameroonian Keyboard is an expression of the ICT-kultur in context Photo Didier De Masso



Artist  Youmbi's paintings of cameroonian nationalist in Doula'Arts Douala 2015, Photo Didier De Masso

 Photography is part of  culture . Photo Exhibition during the Cameroonian Photography National days in 2015



woman from the north of cameroon holding a calabash as she matches during the international women's day 2011. Photo Didier De Masso

              Culture is thus a broad phenomenon. It encompasses, beliefs and practices. The technology, arts and languages of a people. As human cultural evolution changes  as a result of a natural order of things, we should expect to see new expressions of cultural diversity (hybrid cultures). The potential that ICT's gives  in speading culture is certain but much still needs to be done in developing countries such as Cameroon , to foster a sense of cultural management and profesional cultural entrepreneurship at all levels of the society. The 250 ethinic groups are a vast source of know-know and knowlegde which needs to benefit future generations  of the world. The need for training sessions, awareness raising seminars and cultural education to be made more relevant in academic curicula at all levels of the education system is a necessity. We love culture , We love our cultural identity ,  we believe in culture as a real foundation for emmergence, we believe in ICT and Kulture!