Sunday, July 6, 2014

Camcyberspacetopia? Mobile Apps and Developement of Cameroon's IT sector

“Camcyberspacetopia” for Cameroon-cyberspace-utopia, sounds gaga right? So what contents about Camerroon can you get in cyberspace? Typing Cameroon in Google gave 93,400,000 results as compared to 995,000,000 results for the United States of America. This implies a factor difference of 10. From this simple example we know Cameroon exist in the cyberspace environment and can be accessed through the worldwideweb.  Let us probe into some aspects of  cyberspace of concern to Cameroon. ICT and Kulture focused its attention on two main elements: the mobile application industry and internet usage/penetration. 

Mobile apps can be used by pregnant mothers   Photo Didier De Masso
Typing  into  Google search engine the key terms "mob apps industry in Cameroon yielded just 21 results for an ultra-refined search but a lesser refined search with the terms “development of mob app in Cameroon yielded 13, 900, 000 results and another lesser refined search  with the terms “app industry in Cameroon “gave 6, 870, 000 results. These figures are important because they show on the one hand that lots is been said about the mob industry and mob applications in Cameroon and on the other hand that there are just a few mob apps available or mob app enterprises available more specifically. It is still important at this stage to expose the IT environment in Cameroon.  Internet World Statistics (2014) web site, shows important information to consider about Cameroon’s internet usage, broadband, and telecommunications. For instance, Internet Usage Statistics: 1,006,494 Internet users as of June 2012; 5.0% of the population, according to International Telecommunication Union  (ITU) an authority in the telecommunication sector. Facebook Subscribers: 562,480 Facebook users as of Dec. 2012; 2.8% of the population, according to Facebook.

The development of the IT sector will bring with it the development of all other sectors including the mobile industry (technology and service). The mobile industry is of interest because from experience mobile phones are the most used information and communication technologies in Cameroon. In fact, according to the ITU (2013) there are about 13 108 058 mobile telephone subscribers in Cameroon. That is about 64.04 mobile phones per 100 inhabitants were used in 2012. Interestingly according to the World Bank (2014) 70 mobile phones per 100 inhabitants were used in 2013. From these data we know there is an increase. We can expect an increase to occur each year. The implications of these are enormous you can think of m-health, m-education, m-fiance, m-tourism, m-leisure and even the mobile application industry.The mobile application industry is of outmost concern because it involves a big unexploited market of the IT sector. Moreover we think that its development could develop the other sectors of the mob industry (m-health, m-education, m-fiance etc). According to Abega Musa one of the founder of Mgsoftlimited during a programme over the CRTV radio channel there are just 20 mobile applications made in Cameroon. This is insignificant for the market available and it calls for a reflection. What is the problem?

It is imperative to highlight that ICT and Kulture’s concern on the issue of the mobile industry and mob apps in Cameroon is not new. In his blog Gerald Nuba (2007) stated the need for Cameroonian IT professionals to work towards the making of Cameroonian software which could be used for a variety of domains. Hilda Mora (2012) in her article for iHub gave several reasons for mobile phones being important tools for development and concomitantly for Cameroonian’s economy. Let us just name a few of these reasons:
·         Mobile phones only require basic literacy, and therefore are accessible to a large segment of the population.
·         Due to their unique characteristics, the mobile phone is an especially good ‘leapfrogger’ it works using the radio spectrum, as such there is no need to rely on physical infrastructure such as roads and phone wires, and base-stations can be powered using their own generators in places where there is no electrical grid (Economist, 2008)
This implies that mobile phones can be used virtually by everyone, in all areas and at minimum cost. According to Mora (2012), the greatest benefits of the mobile telephony to Cameroon are in the development of mob applications used to improve on food security and corruption.  This is interesting since it means a certain base exists already. Therefore, more Cameroonian developers should be involved in the development of mob apps then.  It is of relevance to mention the role of ICT events to enhance students, researchers and professionals to get involved in the mob application industry. It is a good deal!


World Bank Data (2014)  Mobile Cellular subscription per 100 people consulted 6th July 2014

Mgsoftlimited (2014)

Internet World Statistics (2014) Internet World Statistics: Cameroon consulted 6th July 2014

International Telecommunication Union ( 2013)Mobile Cellular 2000-2012

CRTV Radio (2014). CRTV m’ accompagne interview of Abega Musa and His colleague  on the 7th of April 2014

Gerald Nuba (2007). How Software can be used for Development in Cameroon the Cameroon Way. consulted 6th July 2014

Hilda Mora (2012). How Mobile technology has been used to create an impact in Cameroon consulted 6th July 2014


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Collective Memory and Internet: The First World War (1914-1918) a Cultural Legacy

Poster of The Conference Held in Yaounde Goethe Institut  Poster Goethe Institut

            World War I was just a small but complex human event in a series of war events whose origins and causes are linked to changes in Europe since early17th century (Hamilton and Herwig, 2005, p.2).  It is an important event in world history because it changed how politics would be made and resources used. Its impact on societies was such that its present existence in the collective memory cannot be neglected. Since cultural transmission that is the transmission of cultural material from a generation of individuals to another generation of individual within a psychological view point is highly reasonable (Madelaine Baranger, Haydee Faimberg cited in Mijolla, 2005, p.357 and p.846), it is imperative to highlight the relevance of World War I in the cultural world we are now living in. World War I involved the cultures of the world (Hamilton and Herwig, 2005) and thus positions itself as one of the world wars – there has been several world wars (Hamilton and Herwig, 2005, p.2) - whose influences are far reaching. The motifs of this war can be alleged to be linked to a natural human inclination to transform nature thus by the basically cultural side of the human. Throughout time humanity has passed through several stages which are linked to specific patterns of behaviours and thought processes. It is interesting to note the particularity of the 20th Century with the presence of World War I, a global war. As humans of the digital age, an event of the type of World War I calls and questions us. Internet has changed for ever how cultures will relate to one another and will forever enable collective memories to be remembered. The deaths of the Great War, World War I and the trauma it created.

          World War I started on the 28th July 1914 and lasted until 11th of November 1918. In Cameroon, Africa in miniature, it started on the 5th of August 1914 by the attack of Bonga and Zinga  by the French tropes from Congo . It ended with the capitulation of Mora on the 20th of February 1916 (Mveng, 1983 cited in Demassosso (in press). The North, South, Central and coastal regions were affected by the war and have until today visible effects  not only on the physical environment ( buildings , monuments)  of  the region but on the social environment (bilateral relationships)  as well but mostly on the collective memory (psychological implications e.g. collective/social trauma ).

              It was necessary therefore that a reflection be made on this event in Cameroon. On Friday 9th May 2014, Collective Memory and Internet ( in collaboration with Goethe-Insititut Kamerun (  organized a colloquium  under the theme : First World War And Historical Consciousness in Cameroon : Stakes and Challenges for a memorable celebration.    

Prof Philippes-Blaise Essomba and Mr Jung during The Conference  Photo Didier De Masso
              The conference started with a deductive reflection on the history of the war and its meaning by Prof Philippe-Blaise Essomba from the University of Yaound√© I.Women were involved in several ways during the war. Dr Andela Laure presented a thesis in favour of a massive contribution of women in World War I in Cameroon. Though more subtle, her position informs us on their attitudes to the war which was determinant in many ways according to the Historian, in shaping the evolution of the war.The role and function they had cannot be underestimated.The psychological impact at individual and collective level and the emergence of problems relating to cultural identity as an element of cultural personality and problems relating to its development then and now was highlighted by Psychologist Didier Demassosso. History Phd Student Kampoer Kampoer revealed the influence of the war on the language of the Kwasio a people made up of Ngumba and Mabea of the coastal hinterlands of the littoral region in Cameroon. The expression Na Nyan 14 is often used by these people as language behaviour to depict an attitude toward conflicting situations. The war was indeed conflicting in many aspects. An artistic view point of the War was presented by artist Victor Dicka  in a sequence starting with the beginning of the war and its end.

 Dr Andela Laure (right)  During the Conference Photo Didier De Masso

Women, the Psyche and Arts: How women consciousness, psychology and arts can be used to understand what happened during the World War I in Cameroon.

Drawing by Victor Dicka depecting the scenes of th First World War in Cameroon 
            As Dr Andela emphasised, women in Cameroon played a great role in the unwrapping of the war and this in all aspects. The implication of women in the war was in itself a complex issue since it provoked among the colonial masters confusion and controversy. It also revealed concretely the power of women, something acultural at the time. It is not surprising since women’s consciousness has a unique feature: women are the bearers of culture, and they share it from generation to generation. It was but natural Cameroonian women protect the values and traditions of their people then. The feminine collective unconscious since more rich provided them with the resources they needed to direct the war in the sense it took.  The analysis of the art work of Dicka Victor shows a conscious effort to document on the one hand and to express on the second hand the unspeakable. The effects of traumatic events are often difficult to verbalize using words. Suffering and pain is the common experience of the victims. The construction of meaning through images is also important for recovery. It is true that artistic construction can be polluted by information overload which historical facts beautifully provide. However, when we consider the artist to be historically linked by virtue of  his ancestors to part of the  history of  the event we have obligation to focus on the role that arts can play in consolidating the collective conscious , revealing suffering and providing a means for recovery. 
The Meaning of World War I and the future

            World War I meant that humans are capable of committing terrible atrocities. Moreover it showed by the involvement of continents not linked to the origins of the war how humanity is united in its essence, avoiding pain and suffering. The war lasted more than it was expected and it created a breach into the freedom of humans thereby in some contexts reawakening a sense of nationalism by the reaction of refusal of the war it generated in local communities. World War I reveals to us today that irrespective of our cultural diversity we share unavoidably the same worries and fears. We are linked beyond boundaries by our  human history. By being aware of the existence of this war, our collective consciousness  now and then an integral part of  the digital age, will lead to a healthy collective memory for future generations of humans. It seems reasonable to think that historical awareness and historical consciousness go alongside. That is the need to know what happened and to experience it consciously in some way is necessary for a complete reconstruction of the mental history of the event.The advantage we have is that we have the internet which acts as a sort of memory. We are  now part of a Collective Memory!

Interested participants at a performance marking the end of the conference of WWI in Cameroon Photo DD


 Andela, S., L. (In press). « Les Camerounaise a l’√©preuve  de la Grande  Guerre: Etude Psychologique, 1914-1915 » Colloque international du Centenaire de la premier guerre mondiale. Vendredi 9 Mai 2014 Goethe-Institute Kamerun.

Demassosso, B., D. (In press). The psychology of World War I in Cameroon: An Exploratory Analysis.  International Colloquium on the Century Anniversary of World War I Celebrations in Cameroon Friday 9th May 2014 Goethe-Institute Kamerun.

Halmiton, F., R., Nerwig, H., H. (2003). The Origins of World War I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Kaompoer , K. (In press). ‘‘Na Nyan 14 ?’’ : Autopsie Du Legs De La Grande Guerre Dans La Memoire Kwasio  Colloque international du Centenaire de la premier guerre mondiale. Vendredi 9 Mai 2014 Goethe-Institute Kamerun

Mijolla , A., D. (2005). International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. Detroit : Thompson Gale. ebook.