Cameroon secures US$100m to advance digital economy ambitions
Cameroon has secured US$100-million from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) to drive its digital economy ambitions, with specific support for agri-tech.
The funding will be used to support a government project, Acceleration of the Digital Transformation of Cameroon, to be implemented by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. It is expected to run till 31 March 2027.
The project will be divided into three components: firstly reducing digital divides affecting rural areas by ameliorating digital connectivity and inclusion, secondly support to improve strategic, policy, and regulatory environment for the emergence of a vibrant, safe, and inclusive digital economy, and then thirdly facilitate the implementation of data-driven solutions to boost innovation in the agricultural sector.
All these components are expected to be achieved through the connection of public buildings, including schools, community centres, hospitals, local administrative offices and security posts.
IT infrastructure will also be constructed in rural areas. The project will also support digital entrepreneurship and give assistance to smallholder farmers and producer organisations to promote the adoption of innovations developed by agri-tech start-ups.
In a 2021 report titled “Dynamics of Internet Access in Cameroon: Trends, Challenges and Prospects”, civil society organisation ADISI-Cameroun highlights digital gender divide, constant electricity cuts, poor internet services, poor internet infrastructure, high cost of data bundles/calls, limited internet services, and digital illiteracy as factors impeding digital growth in Cameroon.
It is hoped that the current project will spur a rise in economic growth, productivity, and job creation as ICT is maintained as a strategic priority in Cameroon’s ambition to move from a lower to an upper middle-income country by 2035.
Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Director for Cameroon, said: “By supporting reforms in policies, regulations as well as strengthened institutional capacity, the project will improve broadband access and help stimulate growth and innovation, foster competition, and facilitate investment in the digital economy and in the agricultural sector.”