By Giyo Ndzi
A new study has identified some lapses in Cameroon’s digital system as well as internet connectivity services. The revelations were made in a latest report by an organization working on issues of access to information and freedom of expression, the Association for Integrated Development and Interactive Solidarity ADISI-Cameroon.
The report termed Dynamics of Internet Access in Cameroon; trends, challenges and prospects, was produced by ADISI after a three-month study in Yaounde, during a session with public administrators, the diplomatic community, Non Governmental Organisations, the media and Civil Society Organisations.
Speaking after making known results of the study, ADISI-Cameroun Executive Secretary, Paul Joel Kamtchang said among major findings, was the misdirection of internet resources by predominantly young users. More youths, he stated, “are online to search pornographic sites and not job offers or other productive items. The study, he went on, also proved that Cameroon-based internet users dwell more on international online platforms and sites neglecting their own. Government too, he urged, “should discuss with internet providers to see how they can work on the cost on internet connection…”
Dr Sakah Bernard Nsaidzedze, Peace-building, Gender & Digital Rights for Development Consultant in the same light, said participants in the study revealed cut-throat prices for internet connection were not doing them any favour.
“One of the prominent challenges is that of high cost of internet data and the other is about the poor internet infrastructure. Also we have poor internet services as well as the gender divide in Cameroon,” he explained.
The study he added, revealed “… we have other issues related to cyber threats and of course activities like hate speech, disinformation, misinformation that are increasingly prominent across our digital platforms as well as limited electricity supply to enhance use of these digital platforms.”
“Generally speaking, Cameroonians are not happy and that is why you see that many of them are for the fact that government and other stakeholders should be able to come in to not just reduce the cost and ensure the quality of internet services are improved,” the expert told The Guardian Post.
Addressing the challenges unveiled by the said study, Dr Sakah Bernard told those present, requires a multi stakeholder approach with all actors putting hands on deck.
“… different stakeholders have different responsibilities as far as enhancing access to internet is concerned but the most important thing is that all the stakeholders are very much called upon to come together to ensure proper regulation,” he urged.
The stakeholders, he went on, should “… also to see into it that laws, policies and institutional frameworks in place to sanction activities across major digital platforms are well reflected upon and crafted in a way that meets the common interest of the populations for which these frameworks are meant.”
The ADISI study was carried out between May and July 2021, and covers a wide range of subjects relating to internet connectivity and digital platforms. Among these subjects are legal frameworks governing information access, digital literacy and media activities, as well as the glaring gender divide and recommendations to amend the situation.
The Association for Integrated Development and Interactive Solidarity, ADISI-Cameroon is an organization at the forefront of issues of access to information and freedom of expression. Working to promote Open Data and Data Journalism through its Citizen Access to Information platform, it has for years, been campaigning for the defense of human rights including access to information and freedom of expression