Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

31 July 2014

Cameroon: Government Urges P&T Minister to Extend ICT Coverage

"The Prime Minister, Head of Government, Mr Philemon YANG, today and Thursday 31 July 2014 as from 10:00 a.m. in the main building of the Office, chaired an important Cabinet Meeting. In attendance were the Vice Prime Minister, Ministers of State, Ministers-Delegate and Secretaries of State.

Three items featured on the agenda, namely:

Statement of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications on: the Assessment and prospects of implementation of the Telecommunication Infrastructure Strengthening Project: submarine cable landings, national optic fibre backbone, national broadband network, urban loops;

Report of the Minister for Social Affairs on: Progress of construction works of the National Centre for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons in Maroua;

Report of the Minister for Transport on: implementation progress of the National Meteorological Centre Construction Project;

In his statement, the Minister for Post and Telecommunications presented the current state of reinforcement of high-speed telecommunication infrastructure which has increased markedly. With regard to the extension of the national optic fibre backbone, its linear distance is now over 6,000km, with interconnection links to neighbouring countries. Cameroon's long-term objective is to lay over 20,000 km of cables and ensure a good network of the national territory.

In July 2012, the Government obtained a concessional loan from Exim-Bank China to implement the National Broadband Network (NBN) programme which, to date, is 40% done. This programme has five projects: cable-controlled access network; IP networks and services (INS); Invoicing and Support System (ISS); high-speed wireless access; and Sub-Marine Cable.

To implement the National Broadband Network Programme, Cameroon undertook to build a landing point of the sub-marine cable in Kribi and to extend the optic fibre link to Lagos in Nigeria, from 527 to 950km for an estimated global cost of USD 17 million.

Regarding the construction of urban loops, that of Douala measuring 50 km, has already been commissioned while that in Yaounde, measuring 67.681Km has just been accepted. The towns of Buea (29.186km), Limbe (35.20km), and Maroua (49,423km) will benefit from these investments in the coming months. Government's objective in the medium-term is to take this infrastructure to all ten regional headquarters in order to make internet more readily accessible and reduce telecommunication costs.

With regard to the construction of sub-marine cable landing points, Cameroon opted to forge partnerships with different consortiums including WACS (West Africa Cable System), ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) and Main One, so as to build landing points for their cables along its seafront. Negotiations to buy back the Limbe landing station have just been concluded with the payment of CFAF 12 billion as dues to WACS and the signing of a contract for CFAF 2,113,794,068.

In order to construct a landing point of this cable in Kribi, Cameroon signed a memorandum of understanding with Orange France on 6 July 2013 related to the construction and operation of the landing point of the ACE sub-marine cable and strengthening of capacities in Cameroon. Several projects are in the pipeline, and relate to: (i) the strengthening of high-speed telecommunication infrastructure; and (ii) acceleration of the use of ICTs in Government departments and enterprises.

After the discussion that followed this presentation, the Head of Government asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications to expedite the various components of this vast programme and extend territorial coverage and people's access to the Information and Communication Technologies.

Next to be recognized was the Minister for Social Affairs who presented a report on the implementation progress of construction works of the Maroua National Centre for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons. She revealed that the works of total estimated cost of CFAF 1,600,000,000 are undertaken in partnership with an Italian association and cover an area of 4,000m2 in Maroua Sub-Division, Diamare Division.

Form works for the 1st and 2nd phases of works are complete. The total cost is CFAF 430,727,200, equivalent to CFAF 130,727,200 for Cameroon and CFAF 300,000,000 for the Italian partner. On the technical front, the Centre will strengthen the institutional architecture and technical support centre for the care of disabled persons.

It will have units for consultation, surgery, functional re-education and fitting as well as vocational training for social reintegration. There are also plans to equip it with training and prosthesis-making workshops, boarding facilities for sixty (60) places comprising three blocks of 20 each, staff quarters and a high standing pavilion. Constraints encountered include the mobilization of counterpart contribution and the supply of building materials.

At the end of this report, the Prime Minister instructed the Minister for Social Affairs to liaise with all sector ministries concerned to identify and conduct a financial assessment of the last actions needed to operationalize this important social infrastructure within the prescribed deadline.

The Cabinet Meeting continued with the statement of the Minister for Transports which allowed for better understanding the origin and stakes behind the creation of the National Meteorological Centre. The Centre is tasked with the design and dissemination of climate surveillance products and long-term forecasts, in support of the climatologic activities of States of the sub-region. This will allow for better managing climate-related risks in such weather-dependent socio-economic sectors as agriculture, health, water management, natural disasters, aviation and maritime activities and many others.

Today, this project is estimated to be 90% complete, outside finishing works for a total evaluated cost of CFAF 509,598,590. The contract for finishing works is ongoing.

At the end of ensuing discussions, the Head of Government asked the Minister for Transports to fast-track the completion of construction works, ensuring that the quality of the technical package to be presented by Cameroon will contribute favourably to Cameroon being granted the headquarters of the Regional Climatic Centre.

The Cabinet Meeting was adjourned at1:05 p.m."

Yaounde, July 31, 3014

(s) GHOGOMU Paul MINGO,

Director of the Prime Minister's Cabinet

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