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 as 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 classifying professional institutions of training in cameroon by 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 Minister 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.


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 

SUP-PRO Ranking 2015 Results

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