Reasons for Expensive Internet Access in Cameroon



The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) is a coalition of Governments, private companies in the telecommunications sector and international organizations that promotes the reduction of Internet access costs in developing countries. Internet Sans Frontières is a member of the Alliance, and co-authored this report on reasons for excessive cost of Internet access in Cameroon.



The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) is a coalition of more than 50 Governments, private companies in the telecommunications sector and international organizations. Its objective is to promote the reduction of cost of Internet access in developing countries. Internet Sans Frontières is a member of the Alliance since November 2013, and co-authored the report on reasons for the excessive cost of the Internet access in Cameroon.

The situation in Cameroon is challenging: according to the report published by the A4AI, a Cameroonian spends 60% of his average monthly salary for an entry-level fixed-line broadband package (192 kbps). The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in its report "Measuring the Information Society" ranked Cameroon 152nd out of 169 countries with respect to the price of fixed broadband Internet.

Reasons for these excessive prices are multiple, complex and inter-linked: The monopoly of the historical telecommunications operator, Cameroon Telecommunications, in the management of access to the single submarine cable that currently connects Cameroon to the Internet should be mentionned. This monopolistic position has an important consequence on the cost of Internet access. Indeed, the report explains:

« Operators are currently charged US$2,100 to access the international gateway, the average cost of a STM1 ½ circuit is $64,000 and the monthly lease price for a STM1 ½ circuit departing from Cameroon can cost around $1,600,000. In 2012, for example, the monthly lease price for a STM1 ½ circuit from Douala to Dakar, Senegal (3,200 km) was $51/month/km, i.e. $163,200/month. By comparison, the monthly lease for a STM1 ½ circuit from London to Moscow, which has a comparable distance of around 2,500 km, in 2012 cost $2.30/month/km, i.e. $5,761/month. ISPs, in turn, have passed the bulk of these costs on to Cameroonian consumers. »

Another important barrier to Internet cost reduction: Cameroon has still not installed a national Internet exchange point (IXP) yet, an important infrastructure recognized for its impact on the cost of Internet for users (see the example of Kenya. Discussed since 2008, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications finally announced in December 2013 the establishment of an association responsible for the development of this infrastructure.

Mismanagement of the Special Telecommunications Fund, which is supposed to fund projects aimed at achieving a universal telecommunications service for any Cameroonian, fledgling consumer protection, a regulator of the sector that is sometimes overwhelmed are other factors that keep the cost of access to Internet at a high level according to the report.



Mercredi 6 Août 2014
Julie Owono
Head of Africa Desk @ Internet Sans Frontières En savoir plus sur cet auteur





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