A R + 3 type building built on an area of 1,600 m², 150 workstations spread over twenty offices, four conference rooms, an auditorium, a telemedicine room and many other equipment; all connected to the rest of the world thanks to a very high speed fiber optic connection. This describes the “Ocean Innovation Center” technopole, inaugurated on July 11, 2017, in the town of Kribi, a seaside resort in the South Cameroon region, which houses two landing points for submarine fiber optic cables.
The overall cost of this infrastructure, the first of its kind in Cameroon, is estimated at 607 million CFA francs, of which 155 million are borne by the Cameroonian state, through the Ministry of the Economy, we officially learned. The rest of the funding was provided by the Joseph Foundation, whose co-founder is none other than the Cameroonian engineer Jacques Bonjawo (photo), former Senior Manager at the American giant Microsoft, who has become a pioneer in the field for a few years. promotion of telemedicine in Africa, through the structure called Genesis Telecare.
According to its promoter, the “Ocean Innovation Center” technopole is open to young Cameroonians, graduates or not, but with skills in ICT; businesses and other researchers.
The objectives of this infrastructure, we learn, are “to develop the creative potential of young people by enabling their socio-economic integration; bring together all the small start-up creators in the vast field of ICT; exploit the opportunities offered by the existing: optical fiber, energy resources, etc. ; generate innovations capable of being optimally invested in education, agriculture, health, administration, natural resource management, social networks, etc. ; and attract foreign investment ”.
Over a period of 3 years, the “Ocean Innovation Center” aims to train around 2,400 people in the professions of the digital economy; create around 40 start-ups in the digital economy; create nearly 4,000 jobs; absorb local technological needs; export digital services to countries in the sub-region such as Gabon, Congo and Chad.
“After having praised the social impact of technology internationally, after having praised the progress of countries such as India, Senegal, Mauritius and Tunisia in this area, it seemed to me, at one point, timely and fundamental to achieve concrete things in my country: Cameroon. And there is enormous potential in this country. Cameroon is deploying broadband infrastructure, such as optical fiber which passes here in Kribi; 72% of the population owns a cell phone (ITU statistics from 2015, the figure has certainly increased); the Internet penetration rate, according to statistics from Internet Live Stats, was 18% in 2016, ”says Jacques Bonjawo.