Cameroon – ICT: The irony behind Cameroon’s internet blackout and hosting a digital economy forum

Written by Deckson N.

Cameroon’s government has said it is preparing to host an international forum on digital economy on May 15.

The forum under the patronage of the President of the republic is intended to outline the actions taken by the government to develop the country’s digital economy and persuade financial institutions to invest in Cameroon’s digital sector.

Government critics, including international rights group are however very sceptical of the upcoming forum especially as it is coming weeks after the government suppressed digital communication in two regions. Government cut off internet services in Cameroon’s two English speaking regions for almost 100 days in response to mass protests against perceived marginalisation and the imposition of the French language in local schools and courts.

Even though the internet has been restored, critics say they are still to reconcile government’s declared intentions to make the country a digital gateway and technological hub for the continent through the forum and its recent actions which stifled communication.  According to global reports, Cameroon is floundering when it comes to its preparedness to capitalise on digital innovation. In the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Information Technology Report , Cameroon ranked 124th out of 139 countries in its Network Readiness Index, placing it below the likes of The Gambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The country performed particularly poorly on measures such as infrastructure, the availability of digital content, and affordability.

It is however expected that the May 15 event will somehow add some positive light to the country’s gloomy digital sector. The forum will take place under the theme, “How to successfully carry out digital economy in Cameroon”.

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Deckson N.

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