UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
2.3.1 Information technology policy instruments in Cameroon
There are decrees and edicts governing information policy in Cameroon from 1966-1993.
- Decree No. 66-DF-107 of 11-03-66 merging the data processing department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning with the office of the President of the Republic and establishing a commission for the study and coordination of data processing and accounting equipment.
1. To implement data processing for all governments administrative offices;
2. To initiate a common policy for the use of accounting machines, punch cards and electronic equipment for the benefit of the public sector, parastatals and the society at large;
3. To update data processing activities and available equipment;
4. To set expinditure limits on work done communally or individually
5. All projects related to mechanization, new equipment installation, extension or modernization of existing workshops shall be reviewed by the Data Processing Department.
Decree No. 67-DF-262 of 12-06-67 governing the organization and operation of the Central Data Processing Department.
Objectives: Reorganization of the Central Data Processing Department
Decree No.69-DF-365 of 13-09-69 on the amendment to the Decree No.66-DF-107 of 11-03-66 establishing a Study and Coordinating Commission for Data Processing and Accounting Equipment.
Objectives: Establishment of a Study and Coordinating Commission for Data Processing and Accounting Equipment, and mechanization projects requiring direct or indirect budget allocations from the Government.
Decree No. 64-CAB-PR of 13-05-70 establishing the Sub- Commission responsible for the monitoring of the mechanization of public institutions and parastatals.
Objectives: To monitor, direct and coordinate the mechanization of the following government institutions and parastatals:
- Cocoa, Robusta and Arabica coffee Marketing Board
- Telecommunications accounting system
- Federal savings scheme
- National provident fund
- Douala Port
- Customs department
Decree No. 76-258 of 02-07-76 establishing the Federal department of Information Technology (DCIT).
Objectives: To promote the development of information technology and modern management methods in the public sector, parastatals, mixed economy companies and possibly in the private sector and with other countries abroad.
To implement at the technical level the government information policy initiated by the national information technology commission.
Decree No. 84-1104 of 25-08-84 establishing the organization of the Ministry of Information Technology and public contracts.
- DCIT became DIT with the same objectives as under the Decree of 02-07-76
- The information policy instruments under the Office of the President of the Republic since 1966 henceforth moved to a Ministerial department.
Decree No. 86-935 of 28-07-86 establishing the Organization of the Ministry of Information Technology and Public Contracts.
- The sub-departments are replaced by departments
- Human resources are quantified
Decree No. 88-1087 of 12-08-88 establishing, within the Ministry of Higher Education, Information Technology and Scientific Research (MESIRES), the National Centre for Information Technology (CENADI) which replaced DIT.
The National Information Policy would henceforth be directed and managed by an organizational structure (CENADI) comprising:
- A ten-member governing council
- A department comprising a secretariat and five sections
- External services including the Douala, Garoua and Bafoussam Computer Centres.
Decree No. 93-133 of 10-05-93 amending some provisions under Decree No. 88-1087 of 12-08-88 on the establishment and organization of the National Centre for Information Technology Development (CENADI)
The National Centre for Information Technology Development (CENADI) was merged with the Ministry of Finance.
The study of these decrees, ordinances, achievements and activities carried out shows that there are three periods covered by the information technology development in Cameroon:
1966 - 1976
1976 - 1989
1989 - 1993
220.127.116.11 From 1966-1976
During this period, the Central Data Processing Department and the Study and Coordinating Commission for Data Processing and Accounting Equipment was set up.
The Central Data Processing Department was entrusted with the mechanization of customs liquidation procedures, duties and taxes recovery and the initiation of a common policy for the use of machines, with the exception of PAGODE incepted in 1971 and whose main task was to speed up customs operation procedures and to simplify administrative procedures.
The Commission was to ensure that the texts were applied and its decisions translated into action.
Within the same period, there was a near chronic shortage of human resources and Cameroon had to bring in many expatriates.
In terms of training, Cameroon signed on 29 January 1971 in the Chadian capital a convention between Cameroon and other countries of the subregion with a view to establishing the African Information Institute (IAI) in Libreville. The first scholarships were awarded to young Cameroonians for information technology studies abroad.
All the decisions pertaining to information technology were handled at the highest level of the Government (Office of the President of the Republic).
18.104.22.168 From 1976-1989
During this period the Federal Department of Information Technology (DCIT) and the National Commission for Information Technology were established with three applications: PAGODE, ANTILOPE and TRINITE.
Some assignments initially given to the study and coordinating commission for data processing and accounting equipment were henceforth given to DCIT. This gradually reduced and eventually put a stop to the former's activities.
The National Information Technology Commission responsible for the definition and orientation of information policy only existed on paper.
The emergence of personal computers, resulting directly in reduced equipment costs and a relatively good economic health for Cameroon, prompted the proliferation of information equipment and services in the public sectors and parastatals without prior approval from DCIT as stipulated in the texts.
In 1978, giving a special status to information technologists and setting up department of information technology offering better chances of promotion, encouraged a greater number of Cameroonians trained abroad to come back home.
In 1984, a Ministerial Department for Information Technology was established.
In July 1984, automated customs and foreign trade management and operation procedures, PAGODE, were initiated at Douala Port.
In February 1986, a data transmission network (CAMPAC) was set up to serve national and foreign users.
July 1986: Entry into force of the National Application for Government Information Processing and Personnel Logistics (ANTILOPE).
July 1988: Entry into force of the Computerized Tax and Duties Processing (TRINITE).
The implementation of CAMPAC and PAGODE was going to speed up the computerization of private and government clearing agencies such as SOCOPAO, MORY, SOAEM, CAMATRANS, TRANSCAP, SAMOA, CAMSHIP and CAMAIR.
Other parastatals like SONEL, SOTUC, CNPS, National Printing Press joined the computerization race.
The following observations emerged from the review of the period under consideration:
- Decisions on information technology were centralized in the ministries
- Structures were unstable (DCIT, DIT and CENADI)
- Computerization focused rather on resources than on requirements
- An impressive information equipment fleet was assembled (micro: 2856; Mini: 150, big equipment: 31).
- Huge human resources were mobilized (Cameroonian engineers: 278; Cameroonian analysts: 121; maintenance technicians: 27.
OCI was and still remains today the information policy instruments in Congo. But that role is increasingly called into question for not achieving the objectives laid down in the information plan and taking undue advantage of its privileged position to the deteriment of the entire nation whose level of computerization remains the lowest in Africa.
Given the relevance of information technology in our organization, there is an urgent need to redefine a reference framework tailored to the administrative and economic development requirements of the country.
The second part of the study will focus on the opinions of the main actors involved in the information policy namely, the government offices, parastatals, private companies, computer manufactures, service companies such as OCI and SINORG. Various opinions will be gathered through discussions.
At the end of this exercise, proposals will be made for the putting in place a of national orientation structure.
22.214.171.124 From 1989-1993
Unlike the previous period with speedy computerization in Cameroon, there was a general drop in information activities from 1989-1993.
In 1990, the Government adopted the National Information Plan (NIP) in three stages:
- Study and appraisal of the national information landscape
- Preparation of the main guidelines for information technology development in Cameroon
- Recommendations and proposals for short-, medium- and long-term activities geared towards a more effective use of technologies
In reviewing the National Information Plan, the Cameroonian Government took stock of its entire information policy and pin pointed shortcomings in the way of the laid down objectives. Other steps were taken for national growth in information technology.
Some quantitative data under this plan was subsequently updated.
Over the period 1989-1994, the acquisition rate of micro- computers was estimated 13 per cent per annum, mini-computers at 4.5 per cent and big computers at 5.2 per cent. The computer fleet projection for 1994 thus stood:
Micro-computers: 4781 units
Mini-computers: 179 units
Big computers: 38 units
The growth in number of Cameroonian information technology staff over the period 1989-1994 stood at:
Engineers: 7.2 per cent increase per annum with 474 engineers projected for 1994.
Analysts: 11.3 per cent increase per annum with 1911 analysts projected for 1994.
Maintenance technicians: 12.6 per cent increase per annum with 47 technicians projected for 1994.
In 1993, a presidential decree merged CENADI with the Ministry of Finance.
There are some shortcomings in the information policy conducted by the Cameroonian Government from 1966-1993 of which the most significant are:
The lack of national training infrastructures and supervision of Cameroonian students abroad.
The haphazard acquisition of information resources and the relative inactivity of the studies and coordinating commission for data processing and accounting equipment.
The lack of legislation on the information sector and the protection of intellectual property, the handling of information offenses and registration of information technology suppliers.
The lack of laws on individual freedom in the use of information files in some sectors.
Putting information technology under the central government authority, which does not bode well for information technology issues requiring quick decision taking.
2.3.2 Suppliers of information technology in Cameroon
There are four categories of information technology suppliers in Cameroon:
Information technology industry
Distributors and representatives
Service Companies and Information Technology Consultancy (SSCI)
126.96.36.199 Information technology industry
This generally covers equipment, services and supplies.
The equipment industry is currently only at its early stage. They are INTELAR and HI-TECH COMPUTER.
Up to 1990, INTELAR assembled the (IBM PC-XT compatible) RAMSES micro-processors. In the first half of 1989, INTELAR started marketing the 80386 compatible micro-processors.
In 1990, INTELAR stopped its technical activities throughout Cameroon and another company, HI-TECH COMPUTER, took over the following activities:
- The manufacturing of SIMUSI Computers (80286, 80386, 80486 ISA, EISA series and multi-processor systems).
- Organizing information technology in cooperation with the SSCI's in Cameroon.
- Preparation and installation of architectural network
- Remote connectivity
- Maintenance of electronic and information equipment
- Hardware and software training programmes
- Consultancy and technical assistance
- Research in artificial intelligence and applications development (still at its early stage with a current objective implementation rate of only 2 per cent)
At the industrial level, HI-TECH COMPUTER maintains a good relationship with various manufacturing and supplying companies of raw materials and semi-finished products like TVM (Taiwan Video and Monitor Corp.), American Megatrends Inc., Datatronics, D-Link Corporation, Micronics, Microscience International, Mylex and Telmat Information Technology.
HI-TECH COMPUTER'S permanent technical team comprises five top level engineers and eight technicians.
However, the softwares are not produced in Cameroon and so all users depend on information technology suppliers.
Service industry is not well developed but they provide training, consultancy and the development of current management applications.
Virtually all the supplies needed for computer use were imported.
Reasons why the information technology industry was not developed in Cameroon
- Under-estimation and under-utilization of local expertise and preference in awarding contracts to foreign companies
- Lack of computer importation regulation
- Lack of electronic and information culture
- Poor use of information resources
- Inadequate financial resources for the development of information, electronic and telecommunication industries and services
- Difficult access to powerful development tools where they exist
- Shortage of staff and institutions likely to promote the sector's activities, take decisions in favour of a rapidly developing industry
Most of the world famous manufacturers have branches in Cameroon, selling and maintaining equipment imported into the country. These big companies include IBM, BULL, NCR, UNISYS and offer a wide range of equipment.
However, from 1987-1990 a young Cameroonian manufacturing company called INTELAR locally assembled IBM compatible micro- computers. Its activities have been taken over by HI-TECH COMPUTE whose entire staff members are Cameroonians.
There has been an extensive sale of micro-processors in Cameroon over the years, not only to the big national companies but also to the SME/SMI.
The following table drawn from the National Information Plan given an estimate of the information equipment fleet for 1989:
Sector Micro % Micro Mini % Mini Big %Big Public 439 15% 20 13% 9 29% Parastatals 639 22% 35 23% 7 22% Private 1778 63% 95 64% 15 49% Total 2856 100% 150 100% 31 100%
From 1985-1989, a supplier's average turnover was about FCFA 1.5 billion with a sharp increase over the periods 1985- 1986 and 1986-1987. It dropped subsequently by 68 per cent and currently by 80 per cent.
In terms of human resources, Cameroonians account for 84 per cent of the manufacturing technical staff and all analysts are Cameroonians. There was a significant increase in the number of analysts between 1985 and 1993.
The following table drawn from the National Information Plan illustrates the manufacturing staff trend between 1985 and 1993.
Year Engineers Analysts Maintenan ce technicia ns Camero Foreign- Camero Foreig Cameroo Forei- o-nians ers o-nians n-ers n-ians gners 1985- 1986 19 5 3 0 16 5 1986- 1987 25 3 4 0 17 3 1987- 1988 33 6 10 0 20 3 1988- 1989 38 8 14 0 27 2
Of the total number of information technologists practising in the country in 1989, manufacturing technologists accounted for about 10 per cent, analysts about 0.9 per cent and maintenance technicians 100 per cent, which translated into about 20 per cent for all three categories.
The number of analysts employed by the manufacturers is very low since they are not involved in software applications development.
188.8.131.52 Distributors and representatives
This category of suppliers are not well represented in Cameroon; they are mainly retailers of micro-computers. Since some manufacturers like HEWLETT-PACKARD, APPLE, GOUPIL are not on the market, their products are marketed by representatives. Others like IBM and BULL which are on the market have licensed distributors.
There are few information technology personnel for distributors and representatives and most of them are Cameroonians.
The following table drawn from the National Information Plan illustrates information technology staff for distributors and representatives from 1985-1989.
Year Engineers Analysts Maintenance technicians Cameroo Foreign ers Cameroo Foreign ers Cameroo Forei nians nians nians gners 1985- 1986 1 2 3 1 6 1 1986- 1987 3 2 4 1 7 1 1987- 1988 5 3 5 1 9 3 1988- 1989 6 3 5 1 9 3
It will be noted that distributors and representatives are very unstable . Indeed, they stop working only a few months after they are set up. This causes serious problems for information technology users especially with regard to equipment maintenance.
184.108.40.206 Service, consultancy information companies (SSCI)
In the 1970s, accounting offices with computers for processing served as SSCIs.
However, the first real SSCIs were gradually established in Cameroon as from 1976 and were classified on the basis of their equity composition as follows:
- Companies with 100 per cent Cameroonian capital accounted for 34 per cent of all SSCIs
- Companies with foreign capital accounted for 22 per cent of the SSCIs
- Mixed companies accounted for 44 per cent of the SSCIs
Foreign-capital company generally used labour from their countries of origin.
Companies with mixed capital or 100 per cent Cameroonian initially had limited access to the market not only because of their lack of solidarity, but also owing to shortage of skilled Cameroonian information technologists. Furthermore, some markets were virtually closed to them because of their small size.
The SSCIs in Cameroon do not develop equipment such as software systems (operating and compiling systems). Generally, they do not have any product policy; they only go by the market forces. Their main activities are the development of customized softwares, sale of imported equipment, training and consultancy. It should be noted however that most of the SSCIs specialized in training and consultancy award certificates not recognized by the relevant authorities.
There has been a general downsizing of staff with more cuts in the ranks of expatriate engineers and analysts than Cameroonians.
The following table drawn from the National Information Plan clearly illustrates the SSCI information personnel trends from 1985-1989.
Year Engineers Analysts Cameroonians Foreigners Cameroonians Foreigne rs 1985- 14 43 26 14 1986 1986- 16 44 26 15 1987 1987- 15 15 25 10 1988 1988- 10 10 25 5 1989
This cutbacks are due mainly to a reduction in activities. Indeed, the current difficult economic situation has compelled some SSCIs to stop their activities altogether and others to significantly reduce their staff strength.
In carrying out their activities, information technology suppliers encounter the following major problems:
Suppliers experience long delays with government offices in processing their documents and settling their bills. They deplore the lack of specific regulations concerning the information technology sector, high customs duties on equipment which significantly reduces sales especially of micro-computers.
- With regard to customers, suppliers complain about payment problems and a poor maintenance culture. They believe that their clients lack human resources or do not use effectively those that are available. According to the suppliers, shortage of skilled and experienced staff is due to the fact that staff training has been somewhat neglected.
- Suppliers further believe that their customers are not adequately aware of information technology safety. That is why measures contained in the information technology reports were not complied with, thereby making information technology facilities very vulnerable.
- For their part, most information technology users are yet to be fully aware of the importance of insurance.
- There is no standardized after sales service between suppliers and users (spare parts, office supplies, maintenance programme, etc.).
- There is no suppliers' association to determine qualities and minimum requirements for suppliers. Such associations, if they exist, should regulate the suppliers' activities.
2.3.3 Users of information technology in Cameroon
The economic, social and cultural development process in Cameroon will be influenced by the extent to which information technology is used in areas such as:
- The Government and all the ministerial departments and local communities.
- The productive sectors including agriculture, livestock, industry and the SME/SMI.
- The service sectors including trade, transport, financial and insurance institutions.
- The social sectors including education and health.
The administration can be considered as a supplier of services to the citizens and a pilot of the economy.
As a supplier of services to the citizens, it should manage its resource such as personnel, finance and budget.
As a pilot of the economy, it should be in control of information from various sectors so as to make reliable and effective decision; decision making and communication play a key role.
In terms of State personnel and finance management, three big projects were implemented, namely:
- The PAGODE Project (automated customs and foreign trade operations management procedures), which is run on the IBM 4361 system and uses over 120 CAMPAC network terminals and 18 special connections. It also served the customs, airport and some clearing agencies (see diagram below). These connections form a remote processing network around the PAGODE computer centre, providing users with the following managerial services:
- Customs declarations
- Customs tariffs
The ANTILOPE (State personnel information and logistics processing application), which is run on the P13 Model of the IBM 4381 system and uses 25 CAMPAC network special terminals out of the 29 in operation in and around Yaounde (see diagram below).
The connection with the ministry of Public Service is out of order due to faulty terminals although rents are still paid. Services currently provided include:
- Individual file management with regard to State employees' transfer,
- Updating employees payroll,
- Payroll calculations involving:
- Producing treasury bills and credit advise
- Producing payroll documents and statements
- Collective management and production of various statistics at the request of users,
- Managing the civil service examination with an independent unit responsible for candidates, test scoring and publishing of results,
- Automatic printout of the lists of civil servants due for retirement,
- Pension management,
The following improvement has been made on State personnel payroll management:
- Further responsibility given to employees handling the budgets of those ministerial departments connected to the system through the distribution of information resources and the establishment of a common data base on State personnel
- Controlling the personnel growth rate:
- 3.7 per cent in 1986/1987
- 2.1 per cent in 1987/1988 and 1.5 per cent thereafter.
- The retrenchment of 5200 employees has made it possible to save FCFA 5.7 billion per annum
- Further efforts at controlling allowances such as housing, vehicle, etc have resulted in savings of about FCFA 500 million per month
- On the whole, a sum of FCFA 1.3 billion has been saved per month through these measures
- The TRINITE Project (computerized state tax and duty processing), operated in Yaounde on model P23 of the IBM 4381 system using four special CAMPAC connections with over 190 monitors and 170 printers (see diagram below).
The table below drawn from the National Information Plan illustrates information technology employees in government services in the past eight years.
Year Engineers Analysts Cameroonian s Foreigners Cameroonian s Foreigners 1985-1986 32 25 14 4 1986-1987 40 23 15 7 1987-1988 42 22 21 7 1988-1989 44 14 27 8
Some local urban communities are using or plan to use very soon information technology. Thus, the Dualla urban communities is currently being automated with micro-computers.
220.127.116.11 The productive sectors
Information technology must be used to modernize the productive centre, to improve the quality of manufactured goods and making them more competitive. It should also help boost agriculture and livestock.
Presently in Cameroon, organizations in the productive sectors use information technology for their administrative, financial and budget management.
In terms of agriculture, an agro-pastoral data bank model with technical, economic, statistical and geographical information on about 20 crops, 10 animals specious, fishery and forestry was exhibited in Maroua in 1988 during the agricultural show.
This has prompted the Ministry of Agriculture to conduct a survey on the national agricultural potential.
18.104.22.168 The social sectors
The social sectors include health and education.
22.214.171.124.1 The health sector
Information technology could play a key role in hospital management and control of the big tropical diseases which claim human lives in Cameroon.
Although most health institutions are equipped with computers, they do not have enough qualified information technology staff. None of the big information applications like the medical documentation system, patients' file, medical decision aid, and hospital information system has hitherto been implemented in Cameroon.
However, a system called health management information system is currently being initiated by the Ministry of Health. It is a medical data collection system. Each health establishment is required to complete its activity statistics forms and forward them to the central office in Yaounde. Such statistics should be computerized in order to improve planning and decision making.
A study was commissioned for the establishment of an information system for the administrative, financial and budget management of a teaching hospital. It also included the management of some health institutions' specific activities such as medical files, vaccinations, blood bank, patients' admission, laboratory tests, follow up, equipment and pharmacy.
126.96.36.199.2. The educational sector
Some institutions have been computerized since late 1970s. They include various research institutes and the universities of Yaounde where teachers and administrative staff payroll, and other curricula activities have been computerized. A well equipped PAO Unit with qualified staff is now operational at the computer centre of the universities of Yaounde. Electronic mail is also available at the centre with an X25 line connected to IBM RISC/6000. A small local network is also being built around the RISC/6000.
In terms of human resources, the number of Cameroonian engineers has remained practically constant while the number of expatriate engineers slightly increased between 1985-1993. There has been an overall increase in the number of analysts.
With regard to information technology, it has been observed that the micro-computer is the most utilized.
There are two systems: IBM 4331 and IBM RS/6000 at the computer center of the universities of Yaounde.
Comparing the number of sites (a total of 9) to the number of information technology employees, it was observed that one site out of two does not have an Information engineer and that on average, there is an analyst per site. Moreover, there is one engineer to two analysts. This means that the education sector is as under-computerized as the health sector.
188.8.131.52 Service Sectors
The service sectors include Banks, Transport, Insurance and Hotels.
Information Technology should facilitate the development of these sectors by providing the policy makers with indicators showing trends in the sectors and providing an appropriate control of the national economy. Furthermore, the ultimate goal of Information application should be to offer a better service to users.
184.108.40.206.1 The Banking Sector
Information Technology was introduced into the Banking system in the early 80's, but computerization is yet to meet actual requirements.
Apart from some banks which continues to computerize on a step by step basis without a specific policy, several other banks use annual information development plans designed either internally or with the assistance of foreign consultants or borrowed from the blueprints of parent companies.
Generally, information technology is only used for the processing of current management information.
There are about 200 banking agencies in Cameroon, 30% of which are more or less computerized. On average, 2 information technologists share one working station and generally 20 banking employees use the same consultation terminal.
On the whole, inter-agency and inter-bank exchanges are not yet computerized. Similarly, there are relatively long delays in the clearing operations.
Equipment installed in the banks include:
- Mini-computers: 16 units
- Micro-computers: 64 units
These systems are used both as independent stations and connected stations. There are, however, no local networks.
With regard to softwares, it was observed that:
- Basic softwares were used mainly for traditional functions such as files and business management
- Database management and network systems were practically not used
- Development aid tools were not used
- Programming is usually done in COBOL and GAP II languages
- For most banks, applications are developed by the parent companies and in some cases, foreign companies are used. Banking softwares are also used but generally not updated. They are used for the following functions:
* Management of clients' account
* Portfolio management
- Processing is more often done in batches. However, some institutions such as BICIC and Meridian-BIAO prefer over-the-counter approach.
In terms of human resources less than 4% of the banking employees use information technology. Moreover, information technology personnel account for only 5% of the total banking staff.
With regard to information technology personnel, 76.7% work in operations and 2.3.7% are staff members, 2.2% of whom are foreigners.
220.127.116.11.2 The Insurance Sector
All Cameroonian insurance companies are computerized at least at the Douala headquarters, often with very powerful systems such as SNAC-AGF, the IBM 9370 being one of the most powerful machines in Cameroon. But they often use inappropriate softwares. Thus, SNAC uses the AGF France software which only operates on the IBM 370 series with a turnover a thousand times lower.
CCAR-UAP has started using an IBM 36 for a brokering program from a Jamaican agency. There were so many problems with the system that accounting was simply incomprehensible, concerning especially receipts for the attention of the auditor. The IBM has ever since been replaced with an AS 400 and the situation has slightly improved.
ACC (Faugeres & Jutheaux) has a well computerized accounting system but not yet extended to contract management.
TAA has an AS 400 but is facing enormous problems using it for lack of suitable software.
CNA has had Digital since 1987. It was at that time the only machine that could operate on UNIX. There was a microVax II, with 22 monitors in Douala, and another less powerful one in Yaounde. COBOL softwares used were developed purchased, but, they were not completely satisfactory and a team of Cameroonian analyst-programmers are changing the system to Informix in cooperation with the program user personnel.
The only company which seems to have adequately solved the software problem is Chanas & Private which changed from IBM 36 to AS 400 in 1990. The computerization carried out by a local group in COBOL revolutionized deep seated habits. Free from routine work, the staff then could think of new services to offer to customers. Thus, in cooperation with information technology personnel, they initiated a sound and successful health insurance scheme, which attracted more than 25,000 subscribers early 1992. But it was rather an expensive venture: 15% of the revenues was allocated to information technology; it was an insurance company with several constraints and expenses although its turnover does not exceed that of an average French agency.
18.104.22.168.3 Transport Sector
Within this sector there are activities directly carried out by the Ministry of Transport activities and those undertaken by parstatals under the Ministry of Transport.
The Ministry of Transport provide services such as vehicle registration and issuance of driver's and vehicle licence for each province. In their routine work they encounter difficulties in operation management and in providing statistics on cars available in Cameroon.
Parastatals started computerization in early 70's. The first applications developed were the traditional types mainly for administrative financial and budget management and did not serve the purpose of the Cameroonian Railway Corporation (RNCF) or the Cameroon Airlines (CAMAIR).
Some companies subsequently embarked on the renewal of their equipment by acquiring more performing systems through which specific data base applications were developed.
Compared to other sectors, transport especially run by parastatals seem to have attained a substantial level of computerization.
Cameroonians form the majority Information Technology personnel. The number of Engineers and analysts has remained practically constant and the table below from the National Information Plan illustrates staff trend over the period 1985- 1989.
Year Engineers Analysts Cameroonians Foreigners Cameroonians Foreigners 1985- 1986 14 1 22 4 1986- 1987 14 2 24 5 1987- 1988 13 2 25 5 1988- 1989 15 1 27 4
Comparing the number of sites (about 9 of them to the number of information technology employees, it will be noted that there are 2 engineers and 3 analysts per site, and 1 engineer to 2 analysts. These ratios shows the inadequacy of human resources in comparision to the usuall standards.
22.214.171.124.4 Post and Telecommunication Sector
Before 1989, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MIN & T) were using applications developed and used at the DIT, now known as CENADI. Subsequently, the Ministry established its own information unit and updated its applications which include:
- Invoicing and Processing of Telecommunication bills
- Customers' Savings schemes account management
- Customers' Postal cheques account management
- Staff payroll management
Those applications were updated at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunicatons with a set of computers, including:
- 1 BULL DPS 7000
- 6 IBM RISC/6000
- 3 UNSYS U 6000
- 2 NCR Mini- Computers
- 3 IBM AS/400
- A set of IBM, BULL and TOSHIBA micro-computers with appropriate training for the employees and officers of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications conducted a study which resulted in the setting up of a private data transmission network in the Ministry. This serves as a backup to the Ministry's equipment and applications.
A voice -and- data digital private automatic branch exchange was also set up.
There are currently several computerization projects on:
- Post offices
- Postal sorting centers
- Preparation and publishing of telecommunication subscribers' directory
- Express mail service (EMS)
- Management of Telecommunications Establishments, such as ACTEL, CCL and commuting Center
1. Purchasing equipment from different manufacturers resulted in excessive maintenance costs.
2. According to the officers in charge of the MINP & T applications, several manufacturers were deliberately used in order to avoid being held to ransom by a single manufacturer.
3. Despite a pressing need for the training of information technology technicians and employees as pointed out by the policy makers during training seminars CTI, AFCA, etc., the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications over a long period lacked highly qualified experts such as system engineers, analysts and maintenance technicians.
4. There is at MINP & T a core of telecommunications engineers familiar with information technology who have been able to carry out operational applications in terms of postal and sorting offices management.
126.96.36.199.5 The Hotel Sector
Despite the existence of many luxury and medium hotels in Cameroon, information technology use is only at the early stage.
Before information technology is used in the hotel sector, the uniform systems of accounts should be tailored to the Cameroonian general accounting plan.
Direct costing (Semi-analytical) accounting system for hotel management could be applied to cover the Sequence:
- Integrated semi-analytical accounting
- Food and Drinks
- Fixed assets management
The above sequence is only meaningful with large scale operations. Any other approach would hamper the use of information technology in the hotel sector.
On the whole, information technology use has become necessary for all ministerial departments as most of them have micro- computers but without qualified information personnel.
Naturally, requirements vary from one ministry to the other but the central issue remains information management, especially data transmission still being done on magnetic tapes or in form of written documents.
Comparing the number of sites (about 25) to the human resources at the disposal of the administration, there are two engineers and one analyst per site; two engineers to one analyst in Cameroon.
These ratios show that human resources are inadequate. Indeed, the technical team required for applications development comprises generally 5 analysts to one engineer. Moreover, for an average site there should be permanent team of three software experts.
Generally, funds allocated to information technology are not sufficient, especially for information safety equipment and hardware and software maintenance equipment.
Incompatibility of equipment purchased from different manufacturers is often the root of many problems.
Suppliers do not always comply with delivery deadlines which often results in additional costs and disruptions in services.
CENADI as an information pilot institution within the Cameroonian government is another source of problems in terms of:
- Repairs expenses
- Misunderstanding between CENADI technicians and the end users of its outputs
- Delays in sending out diskettes and printouts
- Staff at the disposal of the Ministerial departments are not under their direct authority, hence, authority crisis
- Technical and terminological problems often arise as most users lack basic training in information technology
- Ministry employees invited to information technology training feel it is a waste of time as they do not derive any financial or professional benefit from such exercise. Hence, they often completely lose interest in information technology.
The ANTILOPE project fell short of expectation as Government continues to pay ghost workers and double salaries, which does not encourage other ministerial departments to computerize.
Decision making and communication information technology is practically nonexistent in the Cameroonian Administration.
2. Although significant progress has been made in terms of information equipment in the educational sector, especially in the universities, shortage of skilled information technologists and maintenance technicians remains an impediment information technology in this sector.
With the exception of the Universities of Yaounde, there has been no study on how to use information technology in finance, scholarships, school supplies, statistics and educational research for a rational management of staff and educational infrastructures.
3. Some companies like the clearing agencies, the Cameroon National Shippers Council (CNCC) and the Cameroon Ports Authority need to frequently exchange data between them and the customs Department. This has been done hitherto only through written correspondence owing to the incompatibility of their information equipment.
The Ministry of Transport should be sensitized to the relevance of information technology use in facilitating the collection and publication of statistical information on vehicle registrations, driving and vehicle licenses.
2.3.4 Back-up instruments to information technology
Most sectors of the Cameroonian economy are currently using information technology to melt the ever increasing needs of policy makers and end users. Applications such as PAGODE, ANTILOPE and CAMPAC are currently used by government offices.
It is not out of place to say that information technology has now reached a strategic stage where its serious dysfunction could paralyse those sectors which depend on its services. This could be caused where there is no safety or maintenance.
188.8.131.52 The Safety of Information Technology application
The basic objectives for the safety and smooth mining of information technology applications are:
- confidentiality of data and output
- reliability and integrity of data and findings
The availability of a system or information technology application depends on several factors, physical and logistic. Information system requirements vary according to the types of processing of which the following are the two most important:
- remote processing which is conversational, transactional and interactive.
- Processing by batch, applicable on the basis of an acceptable maximum deadline for delivery as against the initial scheduled dates
Confidentiality relates to both processing and data.
Processing is generally categorized as:
- very sensitive
Data is categorized as
- very secret
A high level of confidentiality is generally expected from the CENADI professionals.
However, CENADI does not apply the above-mentioned classifications but applications such as the ANTILOPE payroll are intuitively considered sensitive by all CENADI employees.
The reliability of most of CENADI's output and processing is not contested by users.
184.108.40.206.1 Likely threats to information applications
Threats to information applications, include vandalism, sabotage, fire outbreak, floods, equipment breakdown, laxity, errors, omission, heat, break in stock supplies, etc.
Protection against such threats may prove difficult and expensive. However, conventional wisdom dictates that attention be focused on only one of the risks against which preventive measures must be taken in order to ensure the smooth running of the information systems.
The occurrence of these threats and their attendant damages can not be easily projected but they could be categorized in terms of:
- physical security
- logical security
- management procedures
220.127.116.11.2 Physical Security
Items that need to be protected include :
- information equipment
- electrical appliances and air conditions
On the whole, protective measures involve:
- the organization of the premises
- physical protection
- access control
- alarm devices
- operational procedures
It should be noted that apart form the Douala Computer Centre and that of universities of Yaounde, nearly all other computer centres in Cameroon are housed in buildings not designed for information technology. Moreover, most of them are not guarded. The CENADI computer centre in Yaounde is not adequately guarded by the law enforcement agents. In terms of physical protection, the commonest threats are fire, floods, and dust.
With the exception of the above-mentioned centres, practically all other sites in Cameroon are vulnerable. For instance, the CENADI facilities have been flooded several times; there have been three cases of fire outbreak which were fortunately brought under control; there are many burglary cases reported at the premises of the Department of Applied information technology to research and education (DIRE).
18.104.22.168.2 Technical equipment
There are three categories of technical equipment.
- Information equipment
- Air conditioners
- Electricity supply
a) Information Equipment
Information equipment include the central units, discs, magnetic tapes and cartridges, printers, communication controllers, data transmission network components (lines, terminals, and their controllers) etc.
With regard to big CENADI applications like PAGODE, ANTILOPE and TRINITE, there are no capacity margins.
It should be noted that the light equipment operated by users are kept in somewhat deplorable conditions.
b) Air Conditioning
Apart form those facilities in hot areas where the room temperature is often unbearable for both human beings and machines as the universities of Yaounde, most compute centres in Cameroon are not adequately air conditioned.
c) Electricity Supply
The unstable public power supply calls for a close attention to an alternative regular source of electricity in keeping with the technical specification of the installed information equipment.
A standard installation comprises and average-capacity battery-operated ondulator and a reasonalbly powerful stand-by generator.
22.214.171.124.2.3 Magnetic tapes
These are used to save programmes and data required for continued regular processing. The tapes can be easily duplicated but need to be kept in safe places, preferably different from the processing sites. This is not what currently obtains in CENADI and in most other computer centres in Cameroon due to the policy makers' ignorance or lack of office space.
126.96.36.199.3 Logical Safety
The main factors affecting safety are:
- Control of access to programmes and data
- Classification of applications sensitivity and data reliability
- Effective partition between development and operation environments
- Uniform development and operation procedures
- Systematic safeguard measures
- Backup procedures against accidents and periodic checking for smooth running at least twice a year
- Automated operation
188.8.131.52.3.1 Control of Logical Access
All remote processing systems should have reliable logical access control devices.
Technical devices at CENADI such as PAGODE, ANTILOPE, TRINITE are not adequate. There should be a more efficient password management on the ANTILOPE and TRINITE systems with period changes.
In terms of logical access, the end users also have a key role to play by jealously keeping their password and locking up their equipment at the end of the day which is not what currently obtains at CENADI.
184.108.40.206.3.2 Classification of Data Applications
Most data applications in Cameroon do not have standard classifications and so all applications are given the same level of sensitivity and confidentiality except where the staff apply their intuitive perception.
220.127.116.11.3.3 The Distinction between Development and
This distinction is important in order to attain a good degree of reliable processing and avoid fraudulent practices.
Inadequate information technology resources makes it impossible for CENADI and other companies to have separate environments for development and operation.
18.104.22.168.3.4 Uniform Methods and Systems
This is very important for three reasons:
- For efficiency and cost-effectiveness, methods and
systems of similar technical level, used in information
applications within the same sector, should be uniform.
- Backup and maintenance operation will thus be highly facilitated
- The relative shortage of skilled manpower would be less serious if the available skills were shared between the existing various systems
Such uniformity does not actually exist currently except for ANTILOPE and TRINITE applications but can only be achieved through an effective coordination of information resources acquisition and applications development at the national level.
22.214.171.124.3.5 Safeguard Measures
At CENADI and in most computerised sectors, safeguard policies are not uniform from one application to the other or from one site to another.
This is partly due to the difference in the available resources such as the type and management of support equipment and data sensitivity.
126.96.36.199.3.6 Backup Procedures
At CENADI and in most computerised sectors, there is now formalised backup procedure at the sites.
This is due to the different layouts of hardwares and softwares available. For instance, softwares at Yaounde and Douala are not entirely uniform (e.g. DATACOM/DB).
188.8.131.52.3.7 Automated Operation
At CENADI for instance, no operation is currently automated. This generally poses some problems in terms of responsibility sharing between the development and operation teams where there is a distinction.
184.108.40.206.4 Management Procedures
The most critical area of information applications safety in CENADI would obviously be the management of the services required for its smooth running.
Indeed, administrative and financial management methods have a great impact on the various aspects of information technology safety at this center with regard to PAGODE, ANTILOPE and TRINITE.
In this connection, a safety situation report written in 1984/85 on the various CENADI sites indicated that the PAGODE information site was the best managed. This was mainly due to the relatively autonomous management of the funds allocated to SINORG by the Cameroonian government. Experts even rightly predicted that the situation was going to get worse as soon as SINORG left and that is the case today.
The current autonomous budget management in respect of orders for services, consumer items and small equipment has paved the way for smoother operation of information applications, stricter compliance with maintenance contracts, and a closer monitoring of staff attendance.
In addition to the fact that there is an excessively centralized administrative procedures in terms of orders for services, consumer items and equipment, the computer centers under the Cameroonian authorities are not in control of services provided. This spoils the relationship between them and suppliers of those services.
Information applications and their safety are seriously affected by this situation. Like all other information applications, those of CENADI are so sensitive that if delivery of necessary services take so long the purpose may be defeated by the time they are delivered.
There are two types of maintenance:
- Hardware maintenance
- Software maintenance
For a good maintenance, users should adopt the right approach by:
- Selecting reliable softwares
- Signing a maintenance contract with a reasonable warranty in the event of a breakdown
- Applying preventive maintenance service
- Dealing with solvent and serious-minded suppliers
- Creating capacity margins
220.127.116.11.1 Hardware Maintenance
In Cameroon, the manufacturers are responsible for the maintenance of mini- and big computers, while the SSCIs handle micro-computers. However, there are no specialized SSCIs on the Cameroonian market for the maintenance of micro-processors. This creates enormous problems for the users especially those with imported hardwares or those whose hardwares could no longer be maintained since the suppliers have folded up.
Generally, users are not adequately aware of maintenance. Under the National Information Plan, about 70.6% of users have a maintenance contract; some of them import their hardwares directly form abroad and cannot find maintenance services locally.
In the public sector only 17.9% of the organizations are satisfied with their maintenance contracts while only 10% are satisfied among the parastatals.
It should be noted that users living far away from the suppliers' headquarters or agencies experience long delays in maintenance services.
18.104.22.168.3 Software Maintenance
There are software system maintenance and software application maintenance.
Softwares required for the operation of computers are generally delivered complete with maintenance warranty from the supplier.
Experts such as system engineers are required for the maintenance of this type of softwares as their maintenance is quite complicated.
Some users buy their software system directly from abroad and do not find suppliers locally to maintain them.
Application softwares are generally maintained by the SSCIs or the computer department of an organization on the basis of a number of simple rules usually contained in a manual.
Users do not always have instruction manual. Moreover, there is insufficient documentation on application softwares and where it exists, it is not standardized and very comprehensible.
Nearly 44% of users have a software maintenance warranty. This percentage remains low although some users make their own arrangements. The private sector has the highest number of maintenance warranty while the public sector is the least satisfied with their maintenance warranty services.
There is a serious problem of maintaining micro-computers as users tend to purchase them without making sure of the reliability of their suppliers, knowing well that distributors and representatives are not stable on the market.
In addition, a good percentage of micro-processors are directly imported form abroad and some brands are not available in Cameroon.
Regarding the mini- and big computers, the manufacturers who generally maintain them are having problems getting paid by the government and parstatals going through serious economic crisis.
There is a long way to go in terms of information safety as many information personnel believe that this issue should be left alone so as not to have any problems with the authorities.
2.3.5 Information Technology Development Instruments
Information Technology development in any country requires investment in human resources, training and research.
22.214.171.124 Human Resources
The table below form the National Information Plan illustrates the trend of information staff employed by the users from all sectors over the period 1985-1989.
Year Engineers Analysts Cameroonians Foreigners Cameroonians Foreigners 1985-1986 159 69 700 22 1986-1987 191 77 77 30 1988-1989 240 72 1198 30
It would be noted from the national information plan that there is an increase in the number of Cameroonians employed: 12% for engineers and 16% for analysts and a significant drop in the number of expatriates over the period 1985-1989. Generally, the ratio is one engineer to three analysts including the programming analysts, which actually is just about average.
It should be noted that no user has qualified maintenance personnel such as engineers and technicians, hence a complete dependency on the suppliers.
126.96.36.199 Training and Research in Information Technology
Despite widespread recognition of the importance of training in the information technology development process of a country, information technology education is not yet evenly distributed in the various curricula in Cameroon.
Although information technology is not taught at the elementary level, some high schools and higher institutions are starting to teach information technology.
188.8.131.52.1.1 Information Technology in Secondary Education
Although information technology education has not yet been introduced generally into the high schools, there is a movement in technical high schools in form of computer clubs.
Such clubs are generally established at the initiative of the teachers with foreign assistance. Some local suppliers provide gifts in form of hardwares, spare parts, and maintenance services.
Generally, it is teachers who are familiar with information technology who bring their colleagues and students into those clubs where they often develop applications for their institutions.
Some of these computer clubs exchange programmes between them. Each year some of them organize open houses were students exhibit information technology works.
One of the major problems facing computer clubs is the maintenance of their equipment. As a matter of fact, the local companies generally refuse to repair equipment not bought from them.
Moreover, the smooth running of these clubs is disrupted by the transfer of these teachers to other schools.
Computer clubs do not have budget of their own; they depend on funds from students' cooperatives and from outside.
184.108.40.206.1.2 Information Technology in Tertiary Education
Information technology courses are offered not only in some faculties and colleges at the university of Yaounde currently made up two universities (University of Yaounde I and University of Yaounde II), but in some institutions under ministerial departments.
Significant efforts are made at the faculty of science especially in the department of information technology established in 1990.
The introduction of information technology to the former university of Yaounde dates officially back to the 1979-1980 academic year in the department of mathematics, offering a Masters Degree in information technology. However, the Masters Degree did not go beyond that year (See table blow) as there were no candidates.
Despite the efforts made in enhancing information technology education in the scientific disciplines through the hiring of expert teachers (there are currently 11 teachers in the computer department) and the establishment of a computer department in 1990, there is no mention of information technology on certificates awarded by this department up to date.
However, from the 1983/84 academic year, an information technology option has been informally included in the masters degree in mathematics but very few students attend this course.
Although there are no official text establishing these two options, there was during the 1984/1985 academic year a Masters Degree in information technology and a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics with information technology as an option during the 1985/96 academic year. The department of information technology is also offering a Doctorate in information technology.
The table below shows the number of candidates awarded the three certificates.
Year BA Maths, info-tech Masters, info-tech Doctorate option Info-tech 1984-1985 - 7 - 1985-1986 10 6 - 1986-1987 11 4 - 1987-1988 7 2 - 1988-1989 8 5 - 1989-1990 10 5 1 1990-1991 12 7 3 1991-1992 24 6 5 1992-1993 17 - -
All Science students are taught computer science by teachers from the department of Computer Science. Information technology is also taught to other faculties where by time teachers are teachers.
For its part, the National Polytechnic (ENSP) has started in earnest to train student engineers in information technology. This programme is being implemented in cooperation with the Lorrain National polytechnic in Nancy, France, under an inter-university convention between both institutions.
A project for the establishment of a department of Computer Science at ENSP was decided upon by the Polytechnic Governing Board in February 1989. Information technology option has been offered since 1989 in the department of Mathematics and Comp. Science.
In some higher institutions of earning under the Public service or other ministerial departments, computer science introductory courses are offered in all classes as options. Some of these institutions use micro-computers for their practicals.
Since 1990, there has been an institute of Technology (IUT) within the university of Douala offering certificate courses in information technology.
It has been noted, however, that the computer science courses offered are not tailored to the job market conditions. They are rather oriented towards science and research whereas they are really needed for managerial purposes.
Since 1991, more than four private higher institutions of learning education have been founded in Yaounde offering certificate courses in information management.
It is equally noteworthy that most computer science graduates were trained at IAI in Libreville, in colleges and universities in France, Great Britain and North America.
There are however a few companies specialising in training, which supplement government's higher institutions. These companies train mainly analysts, programmers and operations but their certificates are not officially recognized and this make it difficult for their graduates to get into the job market.
220.127.116.11.1.3 Support measures for training
Due to the lack of facilities for training in information technology, before 1992, the Cameroonian government was awarding scholarships each year for studies abroad.
From 1986-1989, France hosted the highest number of students from Cameroon with 200 scholarships accounting for 389 of the total number of scholarships awarded for information technology.
Within that period, 45 scholarships were awarded to students enroled at IAI in Libreville bringing Cameroon's contribution to IAI's budget to about FCFA 90,000,000. At the same time, the Cameroonian government awarded 529 scholarships for information technology out of a total of 7,366 scholarships abroad, which translates into 7.2%.
These figures do not include conditional scholarship renewals as there was no record of such awards.
In 1988/89, total scholarship allocations were kept at their 1987/1988 level or reviewed downwards. Only Canada received a higher number of scholarship students. It was a jointly financed programme with Cameroon paying the students monthly allowance and Canada taking care of tuition and related fees. This continued until 1990/1991. In 1991/92, the Cameroonian government awarded scholarships only for the training of trainers.
In 1992/1993, all scholarships abroad were suspended by the Cameroonian government and training for all henceforth the costs FCFA 50,000.
From 1984-1989, the government disbursed FCFA 1,163,800.000 for the training of information technologists abroad.
Before 1980, the Cameroonian government signed with IBI a convection establishing a joint scholarship fund to which Cameroon contributed between 1984 and 1988 the sum of US$294,000 for scholarships and study missions on information technology.
Some Cameroonian students studying abroad did not obtain scholarships or any special assistant from the government. They were supported by their families and relatives.
18.104.22.168.1.4 Continuous Training in Computer Science
Computer Science is an evolving discipline which requires continuous training of staff.
Generally, users of this technology from the public sector and the parastatals do very little in this regard. Indeed, training costs account for only a tiny percentage of their information technology budget.
In the public sector particularly, there are no specialized training courses in such important areas as software system. There are very few students attending training classes.
Users in the private sector make more effort than those in other sectors.
Information technology suppliers are more aware of the relevance of training. The following tables from the National Information Plan indicates investments made by suppliers and the number of people who benefited from training each year.
The table below indicates the number of people per category who benefited from training in Cameroon from 1985-1989.
Category 85-86 86-87 87-88 88-89 Total Engineers 13 6 13 14 46 Analysts 13 - 18 7 38 Operating Staff 9 7 15 12 43 Management Staff 9 7 16 6 37 Training 1 1 13 5 20 Total 45 20 75 44 184
Over this period, about 60% of the employees attended a training course in Cameroon. Thus, an average of 11 engineers and 9 analysts attended this training. The table below from the national information plan gives the number of persons per category who attended a training course abroad over the same period.
CATEGORY 85-86 86-87 87-88 88-89 TOTAL Engineers 17 26 20 38 101 Analyst - 4 1 1 6 Personnel 6 7 11 9 33 exploitation Personnel 1 - 5 - 6 Administrative TOTAL 24 37 37 48 146
Cost of training in FCFA in Cameroon
CATEGORY 85-86 86-87 87-88 88-89 TOTAL Engineers 13 - 32 21 66 Analyst 6 - 5 7 18 Personnel 9 1 1 1 12 exploitation Personnel 9 - 12 6 27 Administrative Reconversion 3 1 13 8 25 TOTAL 40 2 63 43 148
Cost of training in FCFA abroad
CATEGORY 85-86 86-87 87-88 88-89 TOTAL Engineers 39 67 63 12 181 Analyst - 7 - - 7 Personnel 3 6 8 4 21 exploitation Personnel 1 4 - - 5 Administrati ve TOTAL 43 84 71 16 214
Between 1985 and 1989, suppliers allocated FCFA 214 millions for training abroad, i.e. FCFA 1,192,000 per engineer and 1,500,000 per analysts over four years.
22.214.171.124.5 Sensitization and Popularization
Information technology culture is not very popular in Cameroon. The public is not adequately sensitized to the use of information technology; the television and radio do not devote enough air time to information technology either. Very few articles are written in the newspapers on information technology.
There are no public places where people can access information technology. Apart from a few seminars organized by the private sector and a few big shows like the information technology and office automation show in 1987 and 1988, the first African colloquium on information technology research from 13-20 October 1992, there are practically no public awareness activities.
126.96.36.199.2 Information Technology Research
In Cameroon, there are practically no organizations specializing in Information Technology research unlike in other sectors such as agriculture.
Across the world, there is a large number of research areas of which the most important are:
- Computer aided teaching
- Artificial Intelligence
- Data bases
- Digital analysis
- Software engineering
- Information System Design
- Operational Research
- Data Analysis
- Information Technology Networks
In Cameroon, some research work has been done by some college professors on topics including:
- Parallel Algorithm and its applications
- Artificial Intelligence and its applications
- Data bases
Furthermore, it should be noted that unlike what obtains in other parts of the world, there is practically no working relationship between researchers and the suppliers of information technology.
1. There is no policy in Cameroon for the introduction of information technology in schools with a view to developing students' creativity.
2. Information technology teaching at the faculty of science at the University of Yaounde I is neither formalized nor officialized. Professionalization would entail tailoring school curricula to job market situation in terms of information management, networks, maintenance of micro- computers, etc.
3. There are virtually no national machineries or legislation facilitating the training of top-level technicians especially in the maintenance of micro-computers.
4. The lack of sensitization policy for government officials on the advantages and use of information technology
5. There is virtually no educative framework, mass media, fairs and exhibitions informing the public about the purpose, use and importance of information technology.
6. Information research is conducted in a non-structured framework and does not constitute a backup to education.
7. Research programmes are not always tailored to the requirements of the country.
8. There is no real national association or body of information technologists who can raise public authorities' awareness about the relevance of the information technology and thereby set in motion the computerization process in their respective sectors.
9. The chronic instability of those in charge of information technology due to transfers and reforms.
2.3.6 Derivative Instrument from Information Technology
These include Telematics, data banks, and office automation.
Telematics occupies a pride of place in modern economies and acts as a backup to communication information technology. The development of this technology requires reliable telecommunications. Both should go hand in hand for a meaningful development of the technology. Reliable transmission is crucial not only for the transfer of data between two big computers but also for the dissemination of information to the public.
With the proliferation of computers and transmission equipment, there is a critical need for standard interfaces between types of hardwares, protocols, and standard transmission softwares. This will avert the likely problems of incompatibility between the various systems and thereby improve shared access to data.
Office automation will help improve national productivity.
The data banks, with a world annual market growth rate of about 20%, is a promising development sector. Thus, there are across the world 3000 data banks 75% of which are found in America and 20% in Europe. Because of the low development of statistical tools and telecommunications infrastructures, there are less than 1% of installed data banks in Africa. This is why nearly all data available on Africa are stored in foreign data banks especially in France, (ISIS-Africa, Ibiscus) 77% of which belongs to the public sector.
Data banks are of crucial importance. Indeed, the fact that data on a country is available only abroad may undermine national sovereignty and mortgage the decision making power of the authorities. Setting up data banks within a country will help maintain independent local transfer of information.
There is also a significant commercial stake since request for bibliographical data for instance may cost FCFA 7,500 every 15 minutes while cartographical data may cost FCFA 300,000 per hour.
How these instruments operate in Cameroon will now be discussed in detail.
Telematics is a set of techniques and services combining information technology and telecommunication resources for on-line data transmission.
188.8.131.52.1 Telecommunications Infrastructure
Telephone accounts for 95% of the Cameroonian Telecommunications network while telex, telegraph, faxes, etc. account for the remaining 5%. Due attention is not paid to long- distance commuting and transmission. Despite a relative overloading of local lines, the network is imbalanced and only 20% of potential demands in telephone and telex services are satisfied, with only about three telephones per 1000 people; there are no telephones yet in the rural areas.
Telematics has not been taken into consideration in this venture. The telecommunications development master plan initiated in 1986 aimed at meeting 90% of telephone and telex requirements.
Furthermore, there are plans to have a completely digitalized network between 1997 and 2000 and eventually a digital service integration network.
184.108.40.206.3 Cameroon Packet Switching Network (CAMPAC)
Telematics in Cameroon is backed up by CAMAC which is a public data transmission network initiated in 1982 with the following objectives:
- To make possible reliable and cost effective exchange of data between various types of information technology equipment such as computers, terminals, etc. and between the latter and their various users.
- To make possible the establishment of infrastructure required for development of modern transmission processing methods, archives and information research.
With transmission backup from the existing Post and Telecommunications infrastructures, CAMPAC became a reality through the combined efforts of the DCIT now known as CENADI and the department of Telecommunications with the technical assistance of the French Cable and Radio Company. The network was officially opened in 1986 with a total investment of about FCFA 2 billion.
CAMPAC currently provides nearly all the information technology communications requirements throughout Cameroon and with the outside world. It also serves as a backup not only to traditional applications and remote processing, but also to new telematics value-added services such as electronic mail and accessing foreign data banks. In this regard, it offers:
- a specialized urban and inter-city liaison service
- a packet commuting service with a transmission protocol in line with notice no. X25 of the CCITT.
220.127.116.11.2.1 Geographical Location of COMPAC Network
The COMPAC network is currently operational in cities like Douala, Yaounde, Garoua, and Bafoussam with planned extension to other areas of the country depending on demands and available Posts and Telecommunications Infrastructure (See diagram below).
On the whole, there are 171 subscriptions, with an annual average increase of 35% since 1986.
The special urban and inter-city connections are restricted only to Yaounde and Douala with transmission speeds ranging from 2,400 to 4,800 bits per sec (bit/s).
The packet commuting service operates four virtual circuit commuters in Yaounde, Douala, Ganna and Bafoussam but the VCC allocated to Bafoussam is provisionally installed in Douala and this calls for special inter-city Bafoussam-Douala connections with synchronous X25 access to Bafoussam customers.
The X25 access is compatible with fast machines with X25 interfaces (1200, 4,800, 960 bit/s)
Nevertheless, two synchronous terminal concentrators were installed in Yaounde and Douala respectively. They enable slow machine (300, 600, 1200 bits/s) like mintels to access the packet commuters generally through the commuting telephone network (CTN/access).
On the whole, CAMPAC offers commuting speeds ranging from 300 to 9600 bits/s and makes possible the interconnection of the various types of equipment across the country: computers, terminal controllers, intelligent terminals, screen terminals, etc.
International communications are made possible through a 9600 bits/s satellite connection between CAMPAC and the international Transit point (NTI) in Paris.
18.104.22.168.2.2 Subscription distribution by locality and Sector
The updated table below from the National Information Plan and gives the geographical distribution of subscribers.
Urbain Inter- city Sychronous Asynchronous Tot. Liason Liaisons Access Access Yaounde 29 12 25 50 116 Douala 50 13 26 70 159 Garoua 0 0 6 0 6 Bafoussam 0 0 4 0 4 Edea 0 1 0 0 1 Guider 0 0 1 0 1 Autres 0 0 0 0 0 Total 79 26 62 62 287
Douala and Yaounde together account for 95% of the subscribers with 75% residing in Douala. The highest demand has been for connections service accounting for 54% of the subscriptions, against 46% for packet commuting.
Most of CAMPAC's customers are from the public and private sectors while the parastatals lag behind with only 3% of the subscriptions, is mainly represented by CENADI and the PAGODE, ANTILOPE and TRINITE applications.
The private sector, with 65% of the subscriptions, has been the highest customer with the banks, insurance companies, industries and information technology suppliers in the forefront. CAMPAC's customers thus include about 60 private companies.
CAMPAC is open not only to professionals, but also to the public at large. From the records of the Douala Management Centre, packet communication traffic is currently over one billion characters per annum, i.e. 6 times higher than in 1985/86. Nearly 4000 communications are currently made every month, 40% of which are international.
Most international communications are outgoing, 95% of which are channelled to France. Virtually all packet commuting traffic is generated by the private sector.
22.214.171.124.2.3 Potential demand for data Transmission
The high annual increase in subscriptions to CAMPAC clearly shows there is a significant potential demand which, however, has been very difficult to assess.
Over the period 1985-1989, only 1000 main telephone lines were installed, 4 special urban connections were allocated due to the lack of a network promotion policy. The special connection rate is estimated at 40% and represents is the average rate for the overall data transmission requirements. It has not been to satisfy the overall demand owing mainly to saturated telecommunications infrastructure.
126.96.36.199 Office Automation
Office automation encompasses word processing and other value- added services such as fax, telex, electronic mail, videitex, data bank access, etc.
Word processing is increasingly being used in offices, with nearly 60% of organizations prossessing this tool. However, the typewriter is still largely used. The proliferation of micro- computers has boosted the use of word processing.
The fax machine is the latest addition to office automation with a current utilisation rate of over 30% in government offices. There has been a significant rise in fax services since the opening of two special outfits:
- The first by INTELCAM and
- The second in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications running paid phone booths for the public to make telephone calls and send fax messages.
There will be in the coming years an increasingly widespread use of the fax machine which has already proved its mettle and is affordable by the general public.
Electronic mail is provided mainly by CAMPAC through access to commuting telephone network. E-mail, whose current low patronage is attributable to ignorance, should be an important supplement to the telephone in the coming years in view of the expressed demand.
Videotex service is not available at CAMPAC, it is still being tested by the network managers.
There are practically no data bank servers throughout the country although it is very important to have speedy access to vaiable information . Socio-economic, medical, agricultural and scientific data are currently accessed through foreign attendants. Videotex utilization rate is around 3% for all sectors.
188.8.131.52 Data banks
Nearly all data banks in Cameroon have a potentially high demand from all sectors, especially the medical and scientific sectors.
There was a Cameroonian Agricultural data bank model developed by CENADI in 1986 and is now being implemented.
1. CAMPAC network has helped promote telematics in Cameroon. There are still some problems such as:
- Saturated special urban connections in Yaounde and Douala;
- Relatively small number of available synchronous X25 commuting packet lines
- Excessive microwave failure rate despite the fact that there is a standby inter-station commuting back up facility, with the network running 24 hours;
- Inefficient commuting telephone network calls and long delays in obtaining dialling tones;
- Non-confidentiality of information through the network;
- Inadequate skilled manpower;
- Lack of a network promotion policy for CAMPAC
All these constitute a hindrance to the development of CAMPAC and telematics in Cameroon.
2. Office automation is gaining prominence in word processing and fax but still lags behind in other value-added services like data bank accessing whose virtual non-existence in Cameroon is an additional impediment.
3. Data banks provide a deeper insight into any particular discipline through data collection, storage and update.
Cameroon should have a well-defined policy for the promotion of the following data banks throughout the country:
- Industrial data bank for a better knowledge of industrial production (data on manufactured goods such as nomenclature, prices, etc.),
- Trade data bank (data on business ventures in Cameroon including trade volume)
- Socio-economic data bank (data on main socio-economic indicators)
- Tax and customs data banks (data on general tax, investment, and customs codes)
- Legislative data bank (data on laws and decisions of the National Assembly)
- Data bank on the job market (data on employment supply and demand)
- Data bank on employment (data on employment statistics)
- Data banks on studies conducted on Cameroon (data from various research subjects on Cameroon)
4. Information technology manpower is inadequate; there are few network specialists in the northern countries and are even rarer in Cameroon.
5. Only the big companies are represented in Cameroon (IBM, now known as CBM, BULL and HP). Since these companies serve only government offices, they are seldom aware of the "working stations" and scientific applications. They are relatively unskilled in long distance network.
Maintenance of Computers costs twice as it does in the northern countries for the same services. Inadequate spare parts compel them to import frequently and causes long delays in installation and repairs.
2.3.7 International Cooperation Instruments
In terms of information technology, Cameroon participates in the activities of some institutions specialized in multilateral and bilateral cooperation.
184.108.40.206 Multilateral Cooperation
Cameroon- IBI (Intergovernmental Bureau of Information Technology): Cameroon joined the IBI in 1975 and became a member of the governing board in September 1986. The IBI set up specialized agencies to fine tune its objectives for the implementation of member States' programmes.
Cameroon participated in the activities of one of the organizations, namely the International Institute for Information Technology Development (IBIDI) by giving its full support to the computer-aided learning project, IBI-LEARN.
IBI assisted Cameroon in its programmers training school project which has not yet taken off for lack of logistic resources.
Cameroon signed with IBI a convention establishing a joint scholarship fund which enabled many Cameroonians to attend seminars and obtained scholarships.
IBI is under liquidation since there are no logistic resources to implement its objectives.
Cameroons-Yamoussoukro (Cote d'Ivoire)
In 1985, the Yamoussoukro group which was an offshoot of IBI was established to map out a strategy on the use of Information technology as a tool for social and economic development of the African continent. The Cameroonian minister responsible for information technology was appointed member of the group's steering committee. However, this group was unable to carry out its assignments.
Cameroon-ACCT (Cultural and Technical Cooperation Agency)
The ACCT is an organ of Francophonie which awards short-term scholarships. Cameroonians are regular beneficiaries of the scholarships.
Cameroon-IAI (African Institute of Information Technology)
Cameroon signed on 29 January, 1971, in the Chadian Capital a convention between it and other countries of the sub-region with a view to establishing an African institute of information technology in Libreville. In addition to training as its main vocation, IAI lends its support to other activities such as the organization of seminars and courses.
Cameroon-PII (Intergovernmental Information technology programme)
At the 33rd UNESCO's general conference in Sophia, Bulgaria, in 1985, the inter-governmental information technology programme committee was formally launched as a replacement to the erstwhile interim intergovernmental committee. On that occasion Cameroon was elected member of PII's organizing committee for a four-year term.
PII's main objective was to set up in UNESCO a programme whose bringing a new pragmatic and operational international cooperation into information technology by training specialist, developing infrastructures, defining national policies and popularizing information technology.
It seems however that PII's program was focused on the educational sector in the developing countries although there were initial problems which hampered the implementation of its projects in Cameroon.
Although PII is a young organization, Cameroon earmarked a videotex project for contract tenders which has not yet been launched for lack of financial resources.
Since 1986, the United Nations University, UNU, has initiated a tripartite cooperation arrangement involving the University of Yaounde, the National Institute of Information Technology Research (INRIA) and The United Nations University. Their efforts are backed by the French Ministry of Cooperation and Development in a bid to:
- Provide assistance to top-level education
- Assist in setting up and promoting research teams in University of Yaounde and the African regional level.
Subsequently, there were plans to organize an international scientific show. Having closely watched the scientific progress made in information technology in central and west Africa, the Ministry of Cooperation, INRIA, UNU and University of Yaounde decided to organize from 12-20 October 1992 the first African colloquium on information technology research.
Cameroon LICIA (International Computer and Applied Information Technology Laboratory)
LICIA is an intergovernmental organization established in 1984 with the main purpose of promoting and organizing in mainly African countries, research through cooperation with the industrial countries in an attempt to develop information technology and mathematical methods. LICIA offers scholarships in information technology.
Cameroon is an associate founding member of this laboratory.
220.127.116.11 Bilateral Cooperation
There is no agreement protocol between Cameroon and other countries in terms of information technology since this is not covered by the joint commissions.
1. Little has been done by way of international cooperation in information technology.
2. Since the national information technology market is small, trade should be promoted between neighbouring countries especially in central Africa under a set of agreements between countries of the subregion. This may culminate into joint initiatives to produce equipment, develop applications, and implement inter-state research programmes.
3. In view of the huge resources involved, big projects may be implemented under international cooperation.
4. Authorities responsible for information technology, economic and technical cooperation should work closely with those responsible for international cooperation to build on gains made in international cooperation. Under joint commissions, information technology should be given a pride of place and information technology officials should be part of the team of experts.
5. Further sharing of experiences with northern and southern countries will enable Cameroon to acquire the necessary know- how from foreign countries.
2.3.8 Technological Transfer Instruments
Generally, technological know-how is transferred by implementing at national level big applications such as the PAGODE, ANTILOPE, TRINITE, CAMPAC and the national information plan. These projects are carried out by joint teams of experts and customers.
A committee is set up to ensure that the objectives are implemented. Under the terms of the contract between the government and the consultancy, logistical support is given to the members of the follow up committee and their counterparts thereby providing an impetus seldom found in the administration.
An enabling environment is thus created for a real transfer of know-how. Indeed, training is included in all projects in order to provide the manpower required to sustain the system put in place. There are also sensitization seminars and study missions abroad to keep the customers abreast of difficulties encountered in implementing similar projects. These also enable them to know how far other countries have gone in some specific areas.
The transfer of know-how may be time-consuming if it is not well managed; it becomes vulnerable when nationals replacing expatriates leave their job.
Know-how transfer in equipment industry is still at its early stage as the bulk of these equipment are still manufactured abroad and maintained by suppliers.
2.3.9. General Remarks
1. From the foregoing, policy makers have become more aware of the importance of information technology in economic, social and cultural development of Cameroon. The government thus implement some large-scale projects such as PAGODE, TRINITE, ANTILOPE and CAMPAC. With these, information technology has gained so much strategic prominence that any serious handicap to their operation could disrupt the social peace.
2. In addition to the technical aspects, teaching, organizational and political skills should be developed for the benefit of Cameroonian policy makers so as to make them aware of the importance of information technology in the social and economic development process of the country.
3. The computerization process in Cameroon depends on resources and not on requirements since the market is basically supply- dominated.
4. There has been a rapid increase in the number of micro- computers and some organizations have put in place applications on administrative, financial and budget management.
5. The Cameroonian computerization level is still very low as it does not solve most problems and does not get information through to the policy makers.
Cameroon should, therefore, go beyond this initial stage of computerization which has a number of major shortcomings including:
- Underutilization of existing information technology resources
- Inadequate introduction of information technology to some government offices and the SME/SMI
- The lack of software industry in the country
- Staff training courses are not systematically organized.
- Shortage of micro-computer maintenance technicians, skilled and experienced information technology technicians in some specialized areas like networks, systems and databases.
- Most organizations do not have applications other than those relating to traditional management.
- Haphazard acquisition of hardware and software usually without prior studies
- The lack of an enabling legal and fiscal environment for the development of information technology
- Most users do not have a real electronics and information technology culture
- Lack of coordination between information and telecommunications development; this does not bode well for the development of telematics.
- Unassertive exploration of international cooperation mechanisms in information technology
6. The lack of an association or a body of information technology experts to familiarize users with the checks and balances of the profession.
7. Inefficient use of budget allocated to information technology as projects are abandoned mid-stream. These are projects related to the computerization of national identity cards, the establishment of an agricultural data bank public service personnel management (ANTILOPE), etc.
|Previous Menu||Home Page||What's New||Search||Country Specific|