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Illustration: Gustavo Nascimento

Diverse stakeholders and government representatives are meeting to discuss complementary connectivity solutions and the next steps to address the country's and region's digital divide. To support the dialogue, APC and GIZ Cameroon present a new Policy Brief with recommendations to create an enabling environment for community-led initiatives.

Diverse stakeholders and government representatives are meeting to discuss complementary connectivity solutions and the next steps to address the digital divide in Francophone Africa and specifically in Cameroon. Organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Association for Progressive Communications and GIZ Cameroon, a two-day workshop on 15 and 16 March 2023 in Yaoundé will bring together representatives from government agencies from Cameroon, in particular the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MINPOSTEL), the Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Development (MINDDEVEL), and the national regulatory authority. Public officials from other Francophone countries and representatives from Kenya will also be present to discuss ways of enabling these types of solutions in the region.  

The workshop is a meaningful milestone in terms of multi-stakeholder collaboration and participatory process on policy and regulation in the country. It will be an opportunity to take a deep dive into the roots of the persistent digital divide in the region while learning more about significant cases and discussing community-led, innovative alternatives.

There were 10.05 million internet users in Cameroon in January 2022, which represents only 36.5% of the total population. Those living in rural areas are the most affected by the persistence of the digital divide in the country and region, according to research from AfroLeadership that will also be presented during the workshop. "New approaches are therefore needed to connect the last mile in order to reduce the digital divide, given that rural communities remain in the majority throughout the national territories," highlights the report.

Supporting communities connecting themselves

To support the dialogue, APC and GIZ Cameroon will present a new policy brief focused on Cameroon at the workshop, entitled Community networks for digital inclusion in rural areas: What are the opportunities for Cameroon?

The publication brings an overview of the challenges and opportunities in the country and also some examples of successful experiences in other African countries. It also presents a set of recommendations to support the next steps towards a more enabling environment for communities aiming to connect themselves. One of them is the deployment of Wi-Fi community networks around the country's Multipurpose Community Telecentre (TCP –Télécentre Communautaire Polyvalent), so they become the network core for coverage of surrounding areas.

This policy brief was produced as part of the initiative, Supporting public policy frameworks for community-led approaches to addressing digital infrastructure needs in Cameroon, a project being implemented by APC in the scope of the Local Networks (LocNet) initiative, with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ).

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