Is Covid-19 accelerating Cameroon’s digital transformation?

Cameroon’s telecommunications sector has made significant advances in recent years. In support of the country’s goal of ‘economic emergence’ by 2035, the government introduced new telecommunications and e-strategy policies in 2016, which have resulted in significant improvements to the country’s digital infrastructure.

Deployment of fibre-optic cables now covering over 90% of the country has dramatically reduced telephone and internet costs and provides affordable access to a much wider percentage of the population. Connectivity with border countries in the Central and West Africa region has also improved.  As a result, Cameroon is now included as one of the top 10 in the global index of African countries on e-commerce markets by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development1.

Covid-19

Wherever you happen to be in the world, the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the critical role that telecommunications play in ensuring that businesses, educational institutions, governments and communities stay connected and functional. Digital technology providers serving the country have had to make sure that the transition to remote working and virtual classrooms, ‘the new normal’, has been seamless.

Medical establishments in Cameroon are also relying heavily on the integration of digital technology to care for their patients whilst keeping them away from fragile health centres for fear of spreading the virus. Programmes are being quickly adopted so citizens can use their mobile devices to communicate with healthcare facilities, via video calls in many cases, to consult with medical professionals without having to leave their homes.

Key players and recent investments

Detailed information on the key telecommunication players in Cameroon can be found on ClarifiedBy.com.  These include a mix of global and pan-regional players (Orange Cameroun SA and MTN Cameroon) as well as local companies such as Cameroon Telecommunication (CAMTEL) and Viettel Cameroun.  The sector has also seen considerable investment and partnership activity in recent months:

  • CAMTEL, Cameroon’s national telecommunications provider, has partnered with Belgium’s SatADSL, a satellite service provider to deliver VSAT connectivity across the country2.
  • The South Atlantic Inter Link cable system connecting Kribi in Cameroon to Fortaleza in Brazil has been completed. It is a joint venture by China Unicom and CAMTEL and the project was completed by Huawei Marine Networks3.
  • Cameroon has adopted a five-year strategic plan for Digital Health, from 2020 to 2024. Termed telemedicine, several health organisations are deploying information and communications technologies to strengthen their ability to diagnose and offer treatment4.
  • An international consortium consisting of Facebook, Dubai’s MTN GlobalConnect, Mauritius-based WIOCC, China’s Mobile International, Orange SA, Saudi Telecom CompanyTelecom Egypt and Vodafone struck an agreement to construct one of the world’s largest subsea cable networks, which will connect Africa and the Middle East with Europe. The project called 2Africa is expected to be operational in 2023/245.

Diligencia has recently extracted and curated a bulk dataset from the corporate registry of Cameroon, adding over 120,000 profiles to our online platform www.ClarifiedBy.com. Diligencia uses agile technology and human insight to extract unstructured data on companies in territories where public domain information is not readily available.

Further reading:

Cameroon’s banking sector – weathering the storms of Covid-19 and low oil prices

Sources:
  1. 1. UNCTAD,2018 
  2. 2. Satelitetoday.com, 2018 
  3. 3. Atlantic-cable.com, 2020 
  4. 4. Afrinews.pro, 2020 
  5. 5. Communicationsafrica.com, 2020