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Cover illustration by Gustavo Nascimento

Inequalities in access to telecommunication services, particularly the internet, are long-standing and continue to increase, highlighting the social and economic gaps between the connected and unconnected. However, affordable and reliable internet access is increasingly proving to be a vital asset for development, particularly with the lockdown requirements related to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which led to considerable developments in e-solutions (telework, online learning, telemedicine, and so on).

In order to clarify and facilitate appropriation in Cameroon of a particular connectivity solution that is supported by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and has already been adopted in several countries to reduce the digital divide, this paper was prepared as part of a bipartite partnership between the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), through its Local Networks (LocNet) initiative, and the Programme d’Appui au Développement Communal (Communal Development Support Programme, PRADEC), implemented in Cameroon by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ). 

This paper highlights the ever-increasing importance of access to electronic communications services in Cameroon as, today, the sector is an important lever in national economic development.

The paper also presents regulatory and operational recommendations to make the national environment more favourable to the development of community networks, which are complementary access networks created in areas where traditional operators do not provide access services owing to their low economic appeal. These bottom-up, citizen-driven communication networks are deployed, operated and maintained by communities for their own use.