Technology powered by the people.

Author:Atem-Ojong, Richard
 
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Cameroon is Central Africa's biggest country, in terms of population and GDP. The youth have taken the bull by the horns and are leading the country's IT drive, not only in the country but servicing clients across the continent. Richard Atem-Ojong reports.

They call it the Silicon Mountain. Probably because it sits at the foot of Mount Fako, Cameroon's highest point above sea level. This small tech hub in the heart of the South West Region of Cameroon is rising to meet the challenges of an economy at the cusp of digitalisation. Cameroon's tech industry is breaking new grounds in Africa and it is the country's young entrepreneurs who are leading the charge.

Cameroon is home to about 18 hubs. Collectively these hubs have built an ecosystem that caters to the country's tech needs but also continues to expand its influence beyond the borders of Cameroon. Some of the major players in this space have become popular solution providers not necessarily for their work within Cameroon but for what they have done in other countries.

Churchill Mambe is arguably one of the most recognisable names in the tech space in Cameroon. He started his first company, Njorku in 2006, helping young Cameroonians to find jobs. With unemployment still a major challenge, the site is a handy tool for many young graduates nosing for job opportunities. Which probably explains why the site's popularity outgrew the small town of Buea, became widely used in Cameroon and quickly spread to several African countries.

Churchill's face is perhaps not as popular as his name. Roaming the streets of Molyko-Buea almost always in his black t-shirt and sneakers, you could hardly take him for the influencer that he is. But his company and several others clustered around the foot of Mount Fako are providing enterprise solutions to companies spread across Cameroon, Africa and the world at large.

A major trend is that a huge part of their market is increasingly sourced outside of Cameroon. Zuo Bruno, CEO of Zuoix, an information security company says he has only sold 271 units of his award-winning product Zoomed in Cameroon since inception. Whereas in one go, he was able to sell 7,000 units of the same product in Guinea Conakry.

Cameroon's competitive advantage should be the fact that it is bilingual, both part of the Commonwealth and La Francophonie. As Churchill Mambe puts it "English is the language of tech"--70% of the web is in English--but French-speaking countries of West and Central...

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