YAOUNDE, CAMEROON (08/16/2000) - Editor's Note: Gideon F. For-Mukwai has been in Cameroon for more than two weeks reporting on changes occurring there as a result of telecommunications liberalization and increased use of information technology. This story and "Telecom Liberalization Spurs Growth in Cameroon," "Computers Boost Cameroon Civil Service Census" and "Cameroon Telecom Regulators Face Challenges" offer a snapshot of what is happening in the west African nation.
Experts from more than a dozen French-speaking African and Indian Ocean nations met recently here to learn about new standards and technologies used for spectrum frequency management and control, which have proved troublesome in the region.
Communications free of noise and interference over telephones and radios is a mere dream to Cameroonians and others in this region of Africa. Interference has enormous consequences for businesses in particular. The one-week meeting, organized under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), introduced attendees to new elements of establishing national structures of spectrum management, based on effective use of air waves and to how BASM (Basic Automatic Spectrum Management) works.
The meeting covered knowledge of BASM installation, licensing, spectrum policy and system policy. Participants from Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Mauritius, Madagascar, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Soa Tome and Principe, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo DRC, Burundi and Guinea Bissau are expected to play key roles in their respective countries. Controlling new economic issues that emanate from the rapidly growing telecommunications and IT sectors will be of particular importance.
The challenges brought by liberalization are similar across all of the nations participating in the meeting, said Aboubakar Zoumba, a meeting participant from Cameroon who spoke to reporters. As a result, those involved in the meeting are working to harmonize regional technologies, hardware and software to avoid compatibility problems.
The public's expectations regarding implementation of new systems and standards are said to be high.