Internet in Cameroon: the uses and users.

Essay on the adoption of information t echnology and communication in developing countries Thesis presented and publicly defended by Baba WAME On December 12, 2005 Supervisor: Francis BALL Professor at the University of Paris II (Panthéon-Assas) Members of the jury: - AKOUN André - Professor at the University of Paris V - Francis BALL - Professo r at the University of Paris II - Jean-Marie COTTERET - Professor at the Univers ity of Paris I Summary Introduction of this thesis The world is not moving linearly, it mainly engages in steps, ruptures, revolutions. We see both in technology, science, and field office. We are fortunate to live in the early twenty-first century, an exciting revolution, which is called "Internet". It is exciting but also engaging for surfing the we b is an act much more subtle than the phone or watching television. Talk is a si mple act: a few key presses, a number to call and the discussion can begin. Send a text message on a mobile is just as easy, provided you agree to reduce the la nguage to phonics, or the use of pictograms. Watch a television show is even eas ier: everything is done so that the viewer does not reflect, both in terms of co ntent and interaction. In contrast to walk on the Internet is strewn with many o bstacles that are called: the complexity of computer language barrier, rich inte raction, lack of landmarks, slow access, etc.. Yet we are increasingly likely to connect us, despite the problems it poses. The curve of growth of the Internet is stronger than that of radio and television. The time spent on the Internet is usually taken on the past before the télévision1. Visionary McLuhan2 had also p redicted: "We will move from a culture of media hot and cold spectators to a civ ilization of cold media and spectators warm. In other words, there is a deeper d esire that there seems to cease being a passive actor suffering the world to bec ome an active player taking the lead in understanding the world. Internet combin ing the ease of hypertext and the wealth of content planetary forces us to take control. Along with this diversification of sources, the Internet offers a treme ndous diversification of uses. After the consultation content on the web service s have emerged 1 Anne-Laure Beranger, in the Journal of the Net 30/03/2005 MCLUHAN (Mr.), Underst anding Media, Edition du Seuil, 1968 2 more sophisticated: search engines, access catalogs, buying train tickets, plane , e-commerce in general, video telephony, personal pages, chat, Web cameras, cla ssifieds, maps virtual greeting, downloading files, radio, television, communiti es of interest, voice ... well, a long list of different uses, many of which are still to be invented. As a newcomer in the Cameroonian media landscape (it was in April 1997 that Cameroon has been connected to the network of networks), Inte rnet it is implanted first modestly, then quickly, displaying exponential growth . One of the first Studies3 on social ownership of the Internet in Cameroon was conducted in 1998 identified three Internet service providers (Camtel, and Cenad i Iccnet) and four cafes in Yaounde. Nearly 2000 people and institutions using t he Internet permanently or occasionally. The attendance rate of Internet points

was about 100 people per day. Girls were more likely to use this communication t ool. They represented almost 70% of customers looking for Internet cafes and esp ecially on the joint European Web4. In 2005, the Cameroonian cyber landscape has changed dramatically. Cameroon has already nearly 40,000 Internet users with a direct connection and 60,000 users connected to a public access point, including the thousands of cybercafes in the country. However, these figures remain below those of Morocco (120,000 Internet cafes in 2500) and Senegal (130,000 Internet cafes and 1800). The city of Yaoundé, alone, nearly 400 cafes 5. It is, in most cases small commercial units created mostly by students returning home after a stay abroad.€The number of Internet Service Providers (ISP) has been multiplied by six in five years, from 3 in 1998 to more than fifty in April 2005. The atten dance rate of these places is 200 people per day. Although information technolog y and communication (ICT) 6 investor countries, the computer remains, neverthele ss, a 3 Study conducted by the students of Division III ASMAC, University of Yaounde I, 1998 4 Jean Lucien Ewangue, The Internet phenomenon in the city of Yaounde, ICT Seminar, ESSTIC, Yaounde, in July 1998. 5 ECA-UNDP, NICI Plan, May 2004. 6 In hi s book: Teachers and computers at the dawn of the Internet revolution: the case of the Academy of Amiens, Bernard Dimet back on the origins of the term precious object, handled with care. It protects it from dust in the dressing of a "dress" with lace trim and tailored, which highlights the object. Handled sole ly by the head of the family, the home computer throne in a place of honor in th e most beautiful reception room of the house. In Cameroon as in many countries i n the developing world, the price of a computer is quite prohibitive for the ave rage families. Even for wealthy families, the computer, like television in its i nfancy, is acquiring a very expensive and must be handled with delicacy. The fir st contact with the object is in fear and ritual use are established: unplug the device after each use, protect it carefully. The purchase of the computer is pa rt of a goal of academic achievement or vocational. With the computer and the In ternet, Cameroon has moved from a cart in the digital age. But in fact, in this society of contrasts, advanced technology rubs has it replaced the more traditio nal elements belonging to the lifestyle of Cameroonians. The country is still he avily influenced by its colonial past and its traditional lifestyle. Nowadays th ere is the simultaneous presence of two models: the new mixes with old tradition adapts and incorporates the modern, forms and social practices intersect. It is true that the changeover process in Cameroon modernity accelerates. Internet is gaining ground, as noted by Abdul BA7 "after the pubs and bars, Internet cafes are becoming the second most frequented places by Cameroonians. Eight years afte r docking with the information society, Cameroon n'amorce "Information technology and communication." He wrote that it was first used to d escribe the new tools Audiovisual (VCR, video disc ...) in the period 1978-1981, has appeared in various forms since the early 1980s associated with the compute r . Jean-Luc Michel uses his article without releasing the school in 1982, "Comp uters and Audiovisual: before the thaw. In 1983, in its proposals, the COPRET co mbines New technologies and computer and July 1984, the CERI is organizing a con ference on education and new information technologies. In 1985, Jean-Jacques Ser van-Schreiber, president of CMI, cites the new communication technologies or new technologies of computer and Defferre evokes New technology (computers, robotic s, artificial intelligence) in an article in Le Monde of 16 April 1985. In the L aw on education of 10 July 1989 that found for the first time in an official sta tement the term communications technologies and it is in the soundtrack of Janua ry 16, 1991 and New Computer policy for primary school appears finally the new t echnologies of information and communication. It will be resumed in the major re ports of the Senate (Gerard, Lafitte, Laurent, Sérusclat, Trégouët, ...) or the Inspector General (Guy Pouzard). BA 7 (A.), Internet, cyberspace and use in Afri ca, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2003, page 174

however, that the first phase of adoption of the Internet, one that could be cal led "era of enthusiasm". Phase to be followed by a downswing then interchange us es. Our research is titled: The Internet in Cameroon: the uses and users. Essay on the adoption of information technology and communication in developing countr ies. The starting point for this thesis in information sciences and communicatio n is not the Internet itself, but its uses.€It is for us to try to understand ho w to draw and emerging Internet practices in Cameroon. What are the reasons for the popularity of Cameroonians for this tool? Who uses it? Where and when? To do what? What role do they attribute to Cameroon this tool of information and comm unication? How and what uses they are integrating their everyday world? Scan use s the Internet, said Serge Soudoplatoff8 "is to consider the place occupied by t he Internet, its influence (the impact) and how it reconfigures necessarily soci al life through appropriation that we invent them. " Obviously, our purpose buil t Internet and invent roles, as it is itself constructed through the action of i ts users. The current development of Internet and the success that accompanies i t leads us to ask ourselves about the social uses of this new tool and new forms of sociability that could lead to electronic communication in a developing coun try like Cameroon . It is for us to adopt a primarily quantitative objectificati on of consumption in an attempt to shed light more qualitative. The assumption h ere is that the Internet in Cameroon is a great window on the opportunities offe red by the world. Through its use, it is becoming a powerful tool for improving the living conditions of Cameroonians. Any object of research is part of an inte rlocking themes. The uses of the Internet are part of a larger whole that are th e uses of ICT, including the Internet would be the focal point and model. Jaureg uiberry9 Francis explained that in the sociology of uses of ICT, there are two a pproaches 8 Soudoplatoff (S.), The Internet, where are we? Le Pommier, Paris, 9 October 2004 Jaureguiberry (F.), the hipper mobile, PUF, Paris, May 2003 methodological. The first move: " to assess, beyond the appearance statistical distribution, the effects of ICTs on the organization and social cha nge. This is how technology affects the socio-cultural, economic and possibly po litical. Almost all studies so-called "impact" made in France in the late 1970s and early 1980s is of this type of approach. " The second type of approach, "ass umes that these are not techniques that shape lifestyles, but rather the reverse . Organizations and social beliefs, rules and host cultures determine the accept ance, processing or rejection of new technologies. At first, customs, value syst ems and key features of social reproduction are identified to assess, in a secon d step, the "acceptance rate" that will benefit the technological innovation. We note that in the first type of approach is the technique that shapes social cha nge, while the second is the reproduction of social forms which affects the tech nological development. To escape the stereotypes and some reductions, we have fa vored an approach that focuses on uses in itself and what they can teach us abou t society, namely the Cameroonian society. Jacques PERRIAULT10 feels the same wa y when he says: "there is no inherent technological determinism or total social reproduction, but always a work of appropriation and production." This research builds on a series of researches and surveys conducted in 2004 and 2005 in Yaoun de, the political capital of Cameroon. Chronologically, we went once in Yaoundé from February 15 to March 15, 2004. During one month, we have investigated Inter net cafes, public enterprises and private actors from civil society in Cameroon. We worked with a sample of 400 individuals. 357 were kindly answered our questi ons. The second field study was conducted again in Yaounde. It took place from J anuary 16 to February 15, 2005. It was particularly aimed at predominantly using the Internet in Cameroon, in this case Webrencontre. The analysis we have sough t details of this use of the Internet in Cameroon is essentially based on the su

rvey, interview and observation''participant''. 87 10 Perriault (J.), The logic of the use, Flammarion, Paris, 1989 women responded to our questionnaire;€We also investigated with six Cameroonian and their daily search for a soulmate or prince charming. The following is nouri shed their testimony, their ideas and thoughts. This thesis is as much theirs as ours, although, obviously, we assume the gaps. Nearly 220 pages of transcripts of recordings of interviews were produced. The choice of respondents was made fr om a list of Internet cafes (we only took into account that cybercafes with at l east two dozen computers for the public), public corporations and private indivi duals have Internet connection at home. The two field studies were conducted in Yaounde almost the same periods of the year (February-March 2004 and January-Feb ruary 2005). These periods correspond to the beginning of the fiscal year in Cam eroon, therefore, appropriate periods for the purchase and upgrading of computer equipment by the administration as well as by public and private companies. The y are also in the aftermath of Christmas and New year. In Cameroon, in recent ye ars, fashion has to offer or provide a computer (if possible with a subscription to the Internet) as a gift at Christmas or Saint-Sylvestre. Finally, the choice of Cameroon and the capital Yaounde as objects of study has three interests: Ca meroon has potential significant features of its history (the only African count ry whose official languages, English and French) and location. There has been li ttle studied, unlike other African countries south of Sahara, such as Mali, Sene gal, Benin, Burkina Faso in particular, which have received numerous reports and studies that provided a fairly reliable their situation. Originally from Camero on, in April 1997 I attended the arrival of the Internet in Yaounde and I contri buted as a journalist at the Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) to popularize this new information tool and communication. I have in this sense contributed to the achievement of several Web sites showcasing the image of Cameroon participated in the creation of content in several news sites and been active in several orga nizations working for the development of ICTs. The knowledge of fabric and key stakeholders in ICT in Cameroon seemed to be a valua ble asset for a serious study. Finally, about Yaounde, is the first city in the country to be connected to the Internet. The political capital of Cameroon, Yaou nde brings together officials from all backgrounds. Of the six universities that have Etat11 the country, two are in Yaounde (Yaounde I and Yaounde II) and the thousands of Internet cafes in the country, 400 or 40% are in Yaounde. These arg uments are of Yaounde, a city a laboratory for scientific study on more refined Tic. This thesis is divided into three main sections and a preliminary part. Fir st the preliminary part, which follows this general introduction, is devoted to a dual presentation. First, the historical, geographical, political and economic Cameroon and then a presentation of the country in the era of the Internet. It examines the situation of the Internet in Cameroon until 2005 and outlines the m ain steps of the docking of the country to the information society. The first pa rt deals with the uses and users of the Internet in Cameroon. Chapter I is devot ed to users of the Internet in Cameroon. Who are they, where they connect, how o ften, what is the typical profile of the Internet in Cameroon? The uses for them are identified in Chapter II, leaving a large part to testimony to illustrate t hem. The second part focuses on a predominant use of the Internet in Cameroon: W ebrencontre. An important place is given to the analysis by focusing on how the Cameroonian are appropriate Internet to search for a soul mate or prince charmin g in the context of escape from the misery around. Finally, the third part exami nes the place of Cameroon in the information society. Is there a policy adopted Tic? What actions as an anchor of the information society led by the Cameroonian s? Eight years after logging in Cameroon's network of networks, the country has experienced remarkable progress, which certainly are hampered by the fragility o f the fabric and infrastructure télécommunicationnel. But over the years a stimu lating environment for the development of ICTs is being put in place.

11 There are six universities in Cameroon State: Yaoundé I, Yaoundé, Douala, Buea, Dschang and Ngaoundere. The conclusion provides a summary and prospects for research from this study.