ISSUES 294 & 304 – CAMEROONIAN ISPS
I was just reading the article on the revolution Kikao has brought for Internet users in Cameroon and kind of got mixed feelings about the whole thing. By the way I fell over IPwireless when I began searching for a home internet solution from one ISP to the other. In fact, I never knew of KIKAO, Ipwireless' internet service in Cameroon, before. I stumble across it at Douala1's office and I must admit it thrilled me.
If I may reflect on this with respect to the provision of Internet services in Cameroon then any new option is welcomed here. Only a small minority of people here are even familiar with the computer and out of this minority only a sub-minority have regular access to the Internet. And of this sub-minority only another small part actually do have home or office Internet access. Cybercafés are the actual bases of Internet access in the country.
All this is to point to the fact that while day-to-day operations in the global village created by the Internet is a fundamental mainstay of businesses and everyday activities in advanced countries ,a country like Cameroon has not actually been able to harness these opportunities. But then could the situation not be made better out here?
It could be expected that the introduction of these new technologies in less developed countries would be at a lower or same cost as prevails in advanced countries. However, a deeper look at the issue indicates that these new technologies definitely cost by far higher compared to what prevails in advanced countries. A case in point is the cost of Kikao services as compared to what prevails in other parts of the world where IPWireless technology is used. The purchase cost of the service is FCFA 300,000 francs (USD580) and the monthly subscription fee is FCFA60,000 francs (USD116), and yes that is the cost for one modem and the internet services provided!
And off course, the story doesn't end there. From TV commercials anyone can see on Western televisions, broadband internet connection subscriptions hardly range above USD40. Now anyone can reflect on this issue, , not only Ipwireless' KIKAO in Cameroon, and come up with realistic Internet services which shall carry Africans into the digital age. The issue is all about spreading the services across the population and God knows there is an enormous market for a "reasonably priced Internet service"; and not about extorting profits from a few. There is a social responsibility here!