Cameroon has started rolling out national fibre backbone with Chinese firm’s help


The laying of 3,200 km-long fiber optic cable was launched on Tuesday at Kye-Ossi, a southern town of Cameroon, marking the beginning of an ambitious project which will transform Cameroon into a telecommunication hub in Central Africa.

With a preferential loan of 52 million U. S. dollars given by the Chinese government, which accounts for 85 percent of the total investment required, the project is expected to be completed in 18 months by a Chinese company Huawei. 15 percent of the investment will be provided by Cameroon.

At the end of the project, big Cameroonian cities like Bertoua in the east, Garoua, Maroua and Kousseri in the north, Bamenda in the west, Buea and Limbe in the southwest will all be connected to the fiber optic cable, extending the existing fiber optic cable from 1,941 km to more than 5,000 km.

The work comprises six routes, including:

Yaounde-Mbalmayo- Ebolowa-Kye-Ossi with a crossover to Libreville-Sangmelima passing through Djoum;

Yaounde-Ayos-Bertoua then Belabo-Bertoua;

Bertoua- Meiganga-Ngaoundere-Garoua-Maroua-Kousseri;

Bafoussam-Bamenda; Douala-Nkongsamba-Bafoussam;

Douala-Buea with a crossover to Tiko and Limbe, according to Nkoto Emane, the director general of Camtel, the Cameroonian state operator.

“This ambitious project in fiber optic cable aims to build a modern telecommunication network going through 30 Cameroonian towns. “Thanks to this project, more than 70 per cent of the Cameroonian population will benefit from this new information highway,” Chinese Ambassador to Cameroon Huang Changqing said at the launch of the project.

Huawei will also construct the information relay centers along the cable already laid underground in anticipation of technical configuration.

Since 2007, the Chinese company has also helped Camtel in the area of setting up a commercial telephone service called Citiphone, which allows quality access to mobile phones, fixed lines and the Internet at a low cost.

At the moment, less than 27 per cent of Cameroon’s administrators are connected to the Internet and less than 1 percent of the population uses Internet, according to official sources.

In order to have access to Internet ADSL 256/128 offered by Camtel, one is expected to pay 150,000 FCFA (300 dollars) per month. Thanks to the on-going project, the Cameroonian government expects that from now till 2015 it will be able to increase Internet service to 40 per cent of its population, the mobile phone to 50 per cent and 30 per cent for the fixed line telephone.