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


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