The Republic of Cameroon (CM) is governed by a unicameral National Assembly with its seat of government in Yaounde, the capital. It is a member of the UN, UNESCO and the World Trade Organization.
Cameroon is the world's 97th largest economy by GDP and has a population of 23,130,708.1 Internet users as of June, 2012 stood at 1,006,494, or 5% of the population.2 As of December, 2012, the country had 562,480 Facebook users, or 2.8% penetration.3
In Q4 of 2012 the total number of mobile subscribers in Cameroon was approximately 13,126,000 and in Q4 of 2013 the total was approximately 16,860,000, an increase of 14.17%. This figure includes both contract and pre-paid connections.4
Currently, the youth population (0 - 14 years) represents 42.9% of the population.5
The government’s intentions to increase the public’s access to modern technologies become evident in programs such as the current MCT (multipurpose community telecentres) project, which began in 2002.6 To enable rural areas to access modern technologies and bridge the digital divide, the establishment of MCRs offering phone and Internet services are funded by the initiative for highly-indebted poor countries (HPIC). It is envisaged that nearly 2,000 telecentres will be provided across the republic by 2015, supporting education, health and livelihoods in rural areas, and promoting ICT through education. However, in 2007 the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications reported that the project was slow to get off the ground and still in its pilot phase.
An inter-ministerial committee is working on ICT for education, and a commitment to introduce ICT into all levels of the public education system was made in 2003. However, whilst higher educational establishments are better equipped and prepared, secondary and especially schools are still poorly equipped. Where ICTs are available, their use is still in its infancy.7
Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative, launched at the beginning of 2013, focuses on three critical areas of development for the continent: skills, access and innovation.8 The initiative’s goal is to facilitate and to drive Microsoft’s engagement in Africa’s economic development, which in turn will increase the continent’s global competitiveness. Its Advisory Council, and external board of advisers that guide the initiative’s strategic investment, comprises thirteen members from various African countries. In February 2014, four youth members joined the Council, including a young woman from Cameroon: Olivia Mukam. Mrs Mukam is a social activist and entrepreneur, founder of Harambe, an NGO which engages Cameroonian youth as national problem solvers. The four youth ambassadors will represent Africa’s rural and urban youth and the issues affecting them, such as unemployment, education, and access to technology. Microsoft will gain an insight into this population group and enable the company to make investments that empower and enable the continent’s youth, particularly in the ICT sector.
Internet safety is not yet a factor in the Education system, essentially because although schools are being provided with computer equipment, only a tiny percentage actually have Internet access at present. NGO and industry initiatives continue to take place to promote the use of technology in Cameroon. Further information can be found in the Education section below.
The country’s laws impose harsher penalties on offenses committed against younger children or those who abuse positions of authority over them but no mention could be find of the use of technology in the commission of offenses as at 2012. Further details can be found in the Legislation section below.
The country’s National ICT Agency provides some basic advice on the use of filtering to prevent children from accessing illegal or harmful content on its website.
Karsenti, T., Collin, S. et Harper-Merrett, T. (2012). Pedagogical Integration of ICT: Successes and Challenges from 100+ African Schools Ottawa, ON: IDRC. The PanAfrican Research Agenda aimed to examine how the pedagogical integration of ICT can improve the quality of teaching and learning across Africa. National research teams gathered data on the educational use of ICT in 13 countries: Ghana, Gambia, Senegal, Central African Republic, Uganda, Mozambique, Mali, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Congo, Cameroon, and South Africa, and Zambia. In all, 120 schools, 800 school administrators, 8,940 teachers, and 242,873 students participated in the project. The findings presented in this report enable a deeper understanding of Africa’s ICT policies and a greater awareness of the impacts of ICT on learners and educators. To read the report in full go to http://www.ernwaca.org/panaf/IMG/pdf/book-ict-pedagogical-integration-africa.pdf
Karsenti, T. (Ed.) (2009) Pedagogical Use of ICT: Teaching and Reflecting Strategies. Ottawa: IDRC. A report in English and French on the pedagogical use of ICT across Africa. The report was the result of work conducted in Cameroon, Ghana, Mali and Senegal. http://www.ernwaca.org/web/spip.php?article274
Toure, K., Mungah Shalo Tchombe, T., Karsenti, T. (Ed.) (2008) ICT and Changing Mindsets in Education. This report, also in English and French, explores various questions around the use of ICT in African education and utilizes data from some 66,000 students and 3,000 teachers in Benin, Cameroon, Mali, Ghana and Senegal. http://www.rocare.org/ChangingMindsets/
From 2001 - 2007, the Ministry of Secondary Education (MINESEC) carried out the Cyber Education Project in Secondary Schools project, which succeeded in establishing access to computers for 60,000 students, up from 10,000 at the start of the project.9 In addition, seventeen multimedia resource centers (MRCs) were established in public secondary schools, whilst their educators, directors and the administrative staff also received the necessary training. According to MINESEC data from 2007, 80% of secondary schools had computer rooms and 60% had computer labs.
ICT as a pedagogical tool was officially introduced in Cameroonian schools in 2001.10 Only much later, in 2004, the ‘Cameroon National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) Policy and Plan 2004 – 2015’ highlighted key strategies on using ICTs in an educational setting.11 In this document, prepared with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Cameroonian government recognizes ICTs as a national priority and sets out to achieve the following goals: modernizing the educational system through the introduction of ICTs in schools; preparing an ICT in Education policy; training teachers in the use of modern technologies; equipping all schools with ICT facilities and supporting the development of ICT teaching materials. To help implement these ambitious goals, the Prime Minister of Cameroon signed a decree creating and organizing the national sub-committee for the integration of ICTs in education in June, 2005.12 However, despite clearly good intentions and although the necessary hardware was provided to schools, it appears as though no measures were taken to accomplish the efficient integration of ICTs into the classroom until 2007.13
In 2003, a decree introducing ICTs in education was published by the MINESEC, making ICT an obligatory discipline in secondary schools, with effect from September that year.14 Regarding basic education, ICT was introduced into the curriculum as an optional subject in 2010 in accordance with Order No 5592/B1/780/MINEDUB/CAB passed in 2007 by the Ministry of Basic Education.15 Before the Order was passed, only 0.5% of public basic education schools taught the use of ICT.16 Since then, all student-teachers receive ICT training at college. In addition, an ICT curriculum for nursery and primary schools with an implementation guide for teachers has been published, and 96% of public schools now teach ICT to primary school students.17 However, a study conducted in 2009/2010 by ERNWACA (Educational Research Network for West and Central Africa) in collaboration with PAQUEB (Projet Pilote pour l'Amélioration de la Qualité de l'Education de Base – Pilot Project to Improve the Quality of Basic Education) found that 87% of all teaching is theory only as only 3% of all public primary schools have computers.18
Although lessons in Internet research and web publication feature in the curriculum, online safety issues are not discussed. This is not surprising considering that only 1.25% of schools with computers have Internet access. The previously mentioned study concluded that the "gap between the best and worst ICT provisions is unacceptably wide and still increasing", and pupils’ ICT experiences varied widely between schools, especially between public and private institutions.
In 2003, the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) prioritized efforts towards bridging the digital divide between Africa and the developed world. One of the projects initialized was the e-Schools Program, whose objective is to integrate ICT in the delivery of education curriculum at secondary and primary school level in order to improve access, quality and equity in education.19 This entails equipping schools with computers, radios, televisions, phones, fax machines, communication equipment and connection to the Internet. The project was implemented in Cameroon in 2007.20
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) in conjunction with PAQUEB will be distributing nearly 5,000 laptops across 51 pilot schools across six of Cameroon’s regions, financed by the Islamic Development Bank.21 Cameroon is the first African country to benefit from the OLPC project and planning is currently underway to expand the project to the entire country.
Despite clear challenges such as connecting more Cameroonian schools to the national grid and the Internet, equipping schools with hardware and the training of teachers, success stories such as the one of remote public school Les Champions FCB in Memiam, where all students have access to a computer, show that much progress has been made, and the government has recognized the need for ICT to become a requirement for Cameroon's educational system.22
In February 2014, Microsoft, in partnership with the University of Douala and YooMee, the country’s first wireless ISP, hosted the Microsoft Education in Cameroon event, where the company presented its academic programs and software solutions to students and teachers. Officials explained the IT Academy Program, the Imagine Cup, and tools such as Microsoft .NET and Visual Studio.23
This section contains details of the country’s laws as they relate to sexual offenses, children and the use of the Internet in the commission of criminal activity. Where possible, sentence details have been given, including whether an increased custodial penalty is imposed where the victim is a child.
The age of consent for sexual activity in Cameroon is sixteen. The minimum age for marriage is fifteen for girls and eighteen for boys, with the age of simple majority set at eighteen.24
Article 294, Penal Code. Pimping. This Article states that it is an offense to cause, assist in or facilitate the prostitution of others, or to share the proceeds of prostitution, even occasionally. The offense is punishable by imprisonment from six months to five years and a fine of 20,000 to 1,000,000 CFA francs. The penalty will be doubled if, among other criteria, the victim is a minor under the age of 21.
Article 295, Penal Code. Outrage of Private Decency. States that anyone who indecently exposes himself/herself in the presence of a person who did not consent to this, even in a private place. The penalty for this offense is imprisonment for fifteen days to two years and a fine of between 10,000 to 100,000 CFA francs. If the offense is accompanied by violence the prescribed penalty will be doubled.
Article 296, Penal Code. Rape. Imposes a penalty of imprisonment for five to ten years for anyone who uses physical or moral violence to force a woman to engage in sexual intercourse.
Article 344, Penal Code. Corruption of Juveniles. Defines the offense as exciting, encouraging or facilitating the debauchery or corruption of a minor under the age of 21. This is punishable by imprisonment for one to five years and a fine of 20,000 to 1,000,000 CFA francs. The penalty is doubled if the victim is under the age of sixteen.
Article 346, Penal Code. Indecency with Minors under Sixteen. This Article states that anyone who indecently exposes himself/herself in the presence of a minor sixteen years of age is liable to imprisonment for two to five years and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 CFA francs. The penalties are doubled if the offender used violence or is a person with authority over the victim or a religious minister. Where the offender performed sexual intercourse with the victim, an increased penalty of ten to fifteen years will apply. If the intercourse amounted to rape, the penalty will be further increased to fifteen to 25 years’ imprisonment, or life imprisonment if the offender is a person with authority over the victim or a religious minister.
Article 347, Penal Code. Indecency to Minor Between Sixteen and Twenty-One. Doubles the penalties prescribed in Articles 295, 296 and 347 if the offense was committed against a minor aged between sixteen and 21.
National ICT Agency (ANTIC)
The Agence Nationale des Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication provides information on cyber-security, cyber-crime and ID fraud. Recommendations to prevent children’s access to illegal content and pornography concentrates on computer settings and the blocking of websites. To find out more go to http://www.antic.cm/
Ministry of Secondary Education
The website contains information relating to the tasks and duties of the Ministry of Secondary Education. To find out more go to http://www.minesec.cm/
Projet Pilote pour l'Amélioration de la Qualité de l'Éducation de Base (PAQUEB)
The Pilot Project for Improving the Quality of Basic Education is tasked with the execution of the One Laptop Per Child project in Cameroon. To find out more go to http://www.paqueb.minedub.org/
NEPAD e-Africa Commission: e-Schools Project
The e-Schools initiative is operating several African nations, including Cameroon. The aim of the project is to provide students in both primary and secondary education with ICT skills and knowledge which will enable them to participate in the emerging Information Society and Knowledge Economy. To find out more go to http://www.eafricacommission.org/projects/127/nepad-e-schools-initiative/
Page last updated June 29, 2012
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