“Professional Content is Represented by Specialized Information”

What e-content means in Cameroon:

A: All information which can be carried by a medium, either ‘classical’ (mass media) or through the Internet and related technologies would be defined as e-content.

What is the current status of e-content in your country, including national e-content development across all the sectors of the industry?

In Cameroon, officials make a distinction between two types of e-content: commonly used content and professional or semi-professional content. Commonly used content includes culture, sports and special events. Such content is mostly relayed by classical media (Radio, TV, Newspapers) and for some time now, online papers. This constitutes at least 95% of the country’s e-content. That’s is the reason why Cameroonian citizens, dissatisfied with local content, hunt for e-content from abroad. Foreign newspapers, TV and Radio are the most ‘followed’ media by elite and middle class. There is also a great need for content of a cultural, educational, health, and practical nature. Professional content is represented by specialized information. This type of information is mainly found on the Internet. The country’s contribution to such content is in its infancy. Some governmental institutions such as the Presidency of the Republic, the PM Services, the Ministries of Communication, Higher Education, Scientific and Technical Research, Finance, Public Service have set up web sites and started providing some professional content. With the help of international organizations such as the UNECA, the National Chamber of Commerce has begun to develop e-business content. The Ministry of Health has some projects related to Health content. But all these projects are in their initial phase. As far as education is concerned, the country has a regional bureau of a French speaking virtual university. But all the content is still developed in France.

Which e-content area is best developed in your country?

We can’t really talk about development. Some sectors (e-government and e-business) have more projects in the pipeline than others.

Which sectors in your country are the leaders in e-content development?

The Chamber of Commerce, the private sector and civil society develop e-content aggressively. Civil Society was the first to get ready but the lack of financing greatly hinders its performance.

Please describe the progress of e-content development in your country.

The country is starting from scratch. Today, things are starting to move, after years of speeches and good will. Cameroon is, today, mostly a land of opportunity. Everything has to be done.

Please list the major initiatives which have influenced and spurred the development of e-content in your country.

The project of networking the six Chambers of Commerce of the region (e-business), the e-governance project partially financed by the UNDP, the interconnection of the six State Universities and the setting up of Community Centres are major initiatives in Cameroon.

What have been the major bottlenecks in the development of e-content in your country?

The lack of financing, awareness, political will, infrastructure, and human resources are the major bottlenecks on the path of e-content development in Cameroon.

In developed countries ICT has become part of daily life and e-content development is primarily left to the initiatives of individuals or organizations. On the other hand, in less developed countries, the development of e-content is largely dependent on ICT infrastructure. Please give a detailed analysis of the situation in your country.

The lack of infrastructure hinders the development of e-content. For a population of 16 million inhabitants, the country has 100,000 fixes phone lines. The cost of communication is dissuasive.

How would you describe the ICT scenario in your country? Please describe it in terms of infrastructure, penetration, acceptance and policies.

The traditional telecom company is still in the Government’s portfolio despite many attempts to privatize it. The lack of investment in infrastructure for many years makes it very hazardous and costly to set up a viable e-infrastructure. To circumvent this pitfall, the private sector is increasingly resorting to the VSAT. The high cost affects the rate of penetration, even if more and more people are discovering the enormous potential of ICT. The policies need to be further developed.

How do you see the future of e-content development in your country?

Cameroon has a huge potential in e-content development: it has one of best soccer teams, a rich and diverse cultural heritage (music, masks, sculpture, fabrics, paintings, etc.), a wonderful tourism potential, a dual colonial heritage (French-English, after German domination). Each sector mentioned above could be developed into a commercial sector. The wiring of the country with optic fibers can constitute the needed leverage to bring such a development into effect.

Please explain which is the most preferred medium for e-content development: Print, TV, the Internet, Radio, Mobile/Wireless or a combination of some of these?

The Radio since it is affordable and because of the verbal/oral nature of Cameroonian culture. Mobile technology would also be important.

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