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PanAfriL10n - PanAfrLoc - Cameroon

Cameroon - Cameroun (CM)

1.  Language information / Données sur les langues

1.1  Languages spoken / Langues parlées

a) Official / Officielle(s) :

French and English, as stipulated in the constitution (in practice most of the country uses French and two provinces in the southwest use English) (Aménagement linguistique)

b) National, indigenous / Nationale(s), indigène(s) :

Ethnologue lists about 280 languages in Cameroon at http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=CM .

Evidently all have the status of national languages. According to the constitution as quoted in Aménagement, the state shall "endeavour to protect and promote national languages" without any specific ones being given a special status.

According to Dutcher (2004):
"Cameroon presents a complicated ethnic and linguistic picture. More than 50% of the population is composed of four ethnic groups who speak more about the language their name represents. These are the Bamileke, Fang, Duala, and Fulani.

"Cameroon also has several trade languages that are used across ethnic and linguistic groups. The largest of these is Cameroon Pidgin, or Wes Cos. Others are Duala, Ejagham, Gbaya, and Limbum. ...

  • Beti: 13 percent (includes a group of seven languages but ethnically distinct groups)
  • Cameroon Pidgin (Wes Cos): 13 percent as a second language. It is estimated that 50 percent of the population uses Pidgin as a lingua franca.)
  • Fulfulde (Adamawa Fulani): 7 percent. Spoken by 33 percent of the population has a second language.
  • Ewondo: 5 percent (also trade language)
  • Ghomálá (Banjun): 2 percent
  • Basaa: 2 percent
  • Bamum: 2 percent (also trade language)
  • Mafa: less than 1 percent
  • Kom (Bikum): less than 1 percent
  • Tupuri: less than 1 percent
  • Masana: less than 1 percent
  • Bulu: less than 1 percent (also language of wider communication, spoken by 5 percent of the population)

[Source: Dutcher (2004), Annex A: Summary of Programs Discussed]

c) Relevant pages in the Major Languages section of this report / Pages appropriées dans la section de ce rapport sur les Langues principales :''

Bamileke, Fula, Gbaya, Beti (Fang, Ewondo, Bulu)

1.2  Language policy / Politique de langue

a) Laws/legislation / Lois/législation :

The site L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde has a page on Cameroon at http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/afrique/cameroun.htm

b) Agencies / Agences :

NACALCO/ANACLAC (National Association of Cameroonian Language Committees / l’Association Nationale des Commissions de Langues Camerounaises ou Association Nationale des Comités Linguistiques du Cameroun) http://tilz.tearfund.org/Francais/Pas+%C3%A0+Pas+les+derniers/Pas+%C3%A0+Pas+62/Les+comit%C3%A9s+linguistiques.htm

According to Dutcher (2004), NACALCO/ANACLAC was created in 1989 and "consists of 62 language committees throughout the country. These language committees are themselves local nongovernmental organizations emanating from and mandated by native speakers of the respective languages."

(A page on the Linguistic Diversity and Literacy in a Global Perspective (LDL) site mentions in a bio of Maurice Tadadjeu that NACALCO/ANACLAC currently has "over 74 local language development associations" http://www.ecml.at/mtp2/LDL/html/LDL_E_team.htm )

Three institutions "involved in or responsible for African Language research" in Cameroon (UNESCO 1985). More updating is needed:

  • Département des langues et linguistique, Centre de recherches et d'études anthropologiques (CREA) B.P. 1844 - YAOUNDE
  • Institut des sciences humaines (ONAREST), Centre de recherches sur les langues et traditions orales africaines (CERELTRA) B.P. 1844 - YAOUNDE
  • Société international de linguistique B.P. 1299 - YAOUNDE (SIL Cameroon http://www.sil.org/africa/cameroun/index.html )

One of the interAfrican oral history institutes, CERDOTOLA, is based in Yaoundé.

c) Languages in education/literacy / Langues dans l'éducation/l'alphabétisation :

Dutcher (2004) describes a project, PROPELCA (Projet de Recherche Opérationnelle pour l'Enseignement des Langues au Cameroun) that promoted early exit bilingual education:
"The purpose of the project launched at the University Yaoundé I, Cameroon, in 1981 was to find out how Cameroonian languages could be used to supplement teaching in French and English, the two official languages of the country. The project had four stages." These were:

  1. promotion of French English bilingualism at the secondary level
  2. protection and promotion of local languages in kindergarten
  3. protection and promotion of local languages in primary education
  4. protection and promotion of local languages in secondary education

UNDP (2006) gives a literacy figure (without reference to which language[s]) of: 67.9%

1.3  Writing in national/indigenous languages / Ecriture en langues nationales/indigènes

a) Orthographies / Orthographes :

National languages are currently written in the Latin alphabet with some diacritics and additional modified letters (extended characters). A "general alphabet" for all Cameroonian languages was adopted in 1979 (Tadadjeu and Sadembouo 1984) and is apparently in active use.

A chart showing the extended Latin characters and diacritics used in some Cameroonian languages is available at: http://www.bisharat.net/A12N/CAM-table.htm

Before colonisation and to some degree now, some languages in the north were/are written in Arabic script (Ajami). In the south the Bamum language has an elaborate script that was developed before colonial rule.

b) Print publications / Editions imprimées :

UNESCO (1985) reported the following periodicals (name, frequency of publication, circulation, language). Updated information is needed:

  • Nleb Bekristen, fortnightly, 8,000, Ewondo
  • Nsienkenm - Ngwe Lam Ngun Tu, monthly, 1,500, Ewondo

There is apparently some level of publication ongoing in Cameroonian languages. One book show in January 2007 featured 215 titles in 81 languages (Njog 2007).

1.4  Other comments / Autre commentaire

Maurice Tadadjeu received the Linguapax award in 2005 for his work with Cameroonian languages. See http://www.linguapax.org/en/premisLPXang.html . "Professor Tadadjeu specializes in Language Planning and Mother Tongue Education and has been the driving force behind the PROPELCA project which, since 1978, has successfully implemented mother tongue education programs. Maurice Tadadjeu is currently Chairman of the National Association of Cameroon Language Committees (NACALCO) a federation of 77 local language development associations. In 1999 he launched an ambitious project for the basic Standardization of unwritten African Languages (BASAL). Maurice Tadadjeu has published extensively (mainly in French) on language planning and mother tongue education."

A dissertation explores the survival of maternal languages in the face of use of French: BITJAA Zachée Denis, 2005, "La Dynamique des Langues Camerounaises en Contact avec le Français" (The Vitality of Cameroonian Laguages in Contact with French), Doctorat d'Etat, Université de Yaoundé I. Summaries at:

Un document de la FAO sur la communication pour le développement intitulé "Stratégie nationale d’information, éducation, communication (IEC) du Cameroun" fait mention du rôle des langues nationales.

(See also 3.2 below concerning the "ALI" project.)

2.  ICT situation / Situation des TIC

2.1  Infrastructure / Infrastructure

a) Telephones / Téléphones :

  • Fixed lines:
    • Telephone mainlines: 7 per 1000 people (APC)
    • Telephones - main lines in use: 99,400 (2004) (CIA)
    • "Historic fixed operator": CAMTEL (ITU 2004 cited in Pro€Invest-CDE-2006)
  • Mobile subscriptions:
  • Ratio of mobile to total telephone subscribers: 94.2% (Pro€Invest-CDE-2006)

b) Radio stations / Stations de radio :

Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 9, shortwave 3 (2002) (CIA)

FAO. 2006. "Emissions de radio rurale et jeunes ruraux au Cameroun: Etude de cas dans les provinces de l'est, du nord, de l'extrême nord et du sud." (La communication pour développement. Etude de cas 28)

c) Connectivity / Connectivité :

2.2  Computer & internet access / Accès aux ordinateurs et à l'internet

a) Computers & points of access / Ordinateurs et lieux d'accès :

  • Number of computers / Nombre d'ordinateurs:
    • 3.9 per 1000 people (APC)
    • 160,000 (0.98 per 100 people) (ITU 2004 cited in Pro€Invest-CDE 2006)
  • Cybercafés / Cybercafés:
    • "More than 20 Internet access providers, or cyber cafés, in Yaoundé are connected to the Internet by VSAT to a flow of less than 512 Kbps." (Towards an African e-Index)
    • "Cyber cafés are the chief mode of access for the vast majority of Cameroonian Internet users. Local company Doula1.com believes that a nationwide network of cyber-centres linked to ISPs by VSAT, or terrestrial optical fibre where available, would have enormous potential. The company is currently working on this concept." (Towards an African e-Index)
  • Project telecentres / Télécentres de projets:

b) Internet / Internet :

  • Dial-up subscribers / Abonnés par ligne téléphonique : 10,000(Towards an African e-Index)
  • Internet users / Utilisateurs de l'internet : 167,000 Internet users as of Sept/05, 1.0% of the population, per ITU (Internet World Stats)

"A very rough approximation suggests around 10 000 subscribers, mainly businesses and international organisations. Only about 8 000 people use the Internet in Yaoundé every day." (Towards an African e-Index)

c) Other / Autre :

  • Digital Opportunity Index (DOI): 0.21 (ITU 2006)

2.3  ICT policy / Politique de TIC

ART is the telecommunications regulatory body (Pro€Invest-CDE 2006)

Agence Nationale des TIC au Cameroun (ANTIC), laquelle est sous la tutelle du Secrétariat Général de la Présidence de la République du Cameroun

"As one of the first African countries to adopt the GSM system back in 1989, Cameroon’s telecommunications sector had the potential to become an engine for growth in Central Africa and well beyond. Sadly, years of ill-fated policies and a lack of investment have undermined the sector to the point where, despite partial liberalisation and the signing of a performance contract between the government and the incumbent operator, Camtel, in 1998, the sector continues to be characterised by low penetration, a growing demand for fixed line services and a stalled Internet sector. The only bright spot has been the phenomenal growth of the mobile sector, which has attracted more than two million customers in less than five years." (Towards an African e-Index)

"One of the biggest concerns about ICT policies, e-strategies and related implementation plans and initiatives in Cameroon is the lack of a clear direction and a conducive policy framework. These concerns are linked to the absence of a vision and a national policy as well as the difficulties experienced in coordinating the different organisations in charge of designing and implementing Cameroon’s ICT policies and strategies. To end this confusion, the President established the National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ANTIC), and its organisational and operational framework, in 2002. It was given a large range of functions relating to infrastructure, regulation and security as well as building human capacity in the deployment and use of ICT. Its materialisation is still expected." (Towards an African e-Index)

According to Pro€Invest-CDE (2006) there has been

  • "NICI process launched in 2000 with support from UNDP; initial version submitted for validation In 2004; 10 priorities identified, including trade and e-governance, ITC services, and infrastructures"
  • Coordinating institution(s): "NATIC created in 2002 and Observatory of new technologies (Ministry of Post and Telecommunications)" [is NATIC the same as ANTIC mentioned above??]

The 10 priority areas are: agriculture; development of human resources; e-commerce; e-government; education; health; ICT services; infrastructure; tourism, environment and natural resources; youth and gender

Cameroon NICI (National Information and Communications Infrastructure) documents:

  • 2001: "Plan National des Infrastructures de la Communication et de l'Information


More information on Cameroon's NICI policy is available at:

The APC page, "ICT Policy in Cameroon" has some information and links:

2.4  ICT4D/E & ICT training / TIC pour le développement/éducation, et formation en TIC

2.5  Resources / Ressources


  • Theodore Kengne
  • Prof. Emmanuel Tonye, Ecole Nationale Supérieure Polytechnique et Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur
  • Prof. Sundjock, Centre Régional de Recherche et de Documentation sur les Traditions Orales et pour le Développement des Langues (Cerdotola)
  • Jacques Mbede, Ecole Nationale Supérieure Polytechnique de Yaoundé


  • Ecole Nationale Supérieure Polytechnique de Yaoundé (ENSPY) (computer engineering)
  • Institut Africain d’Informatique (IAI), Cameroon


(see also 1.2 b, above)

3.  Localisation situation / Situation de localisation

3.1  Country web content / Contenu web du pays

Selected sites:

3.2  Web content in indigenous languages / Contenu web en langues indigènes

An ambitious project for indigenous language learning on the internet called "Apprentissage des Langues africaines par l'Internet" (ALI) was begun in 2002 with French funding. (This project is apparently on hold pending funding). Description:

(See also specific language pages.)

3.3  Software localisation / Localisation de logiciel

There are no current software localisation activities to our knowledge.

(See also specific language pages.)

3.4  Projects & organisations / Projets et organisations

3.5  Localisation policy / Politique de localisation

4.  References / Références

APC, "ICT Policy in Cameroon," Africa ICT Policy Monitor, http://rights.apc.org/africa/index.shtml?apc=s21850e_1 ("Politiques de TIC en/au Cameroun," Observatoire des politiques des TIC en Afrique, http://afrique.droits.apc.org/index.shtml?apc=s21850e_1 )

Dutcher, Nadine. 2004. Expanding Educational Opportunity in Linguistically Diverse Societies, 2nd. ed. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. http://www.cal.org/resources/pubs/expand.html

International Telecommunications Union (ITU). 2006. World Information Society Report 2006. Geneva: ITU. http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/publications/worldinformationsociety/2006/wisr-web.pdf

______. 2004. African Telecommunication Indicators 2004. Geneva: ITU.

Internet Systems Consortium (ISC), "Distribution of Top-Level Domain Names by Host Country, Jan 2007" http://www.isc.org/index.pl?/ops/ds/

Internet World Stats: Africa. 2006. http://internetworldstats.com/africa.htm

Leclerc, Jacques. L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde, "Cameroun," http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/afrique/cameroun.htm

Njog, Mathieu Nathanaël. 2007. "Exposition de 215 livres en 81 langues camerounaises." Le Messager Journal N° 2310 du 14-02-2007 http://www.lemessager.net/details_articles.php?numero=1&code=143&code_art=17421 or http://africavenir.com/news/2007/02/1114/exposition-de-215-livres-en-81-langues-camerounaises

Nzépa, Olivier Nana, and Robertine Tankeu Keutchankeu. 2005. "Cameroon." In Gillwald, Alison (ed.), Towards an African e-Index: Household and individual ICT Access and Usage Across 10 African Countries. (Research ICT Africa!, http://www.researchictafrica.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=504 )

Pro€Invest - Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE). 2006. "Investment opportunities in the ICT and e-business services sector in Central Africa." Presented at NOVATECH 2006 (West & Central Africa), Bamako, Mali, 7-9 November 2006 http://www.proinvest-eu.org/files/pubs/37/NOVATECH%20-%20Etude_CAF%20en.pdf ("Opportunités d'investissement dans les TIC et des services e.business en Afrique Centrale," http://www.proinvest-eu.org/files/pubs/36/NOVATECH%202006%20-%20Etude_sectorielle%20CAF.pdf )

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Languages of Cameroon," http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=CM

Tadadjeu, Maurice, and Etienne Sadembouo, eds. 1984. General alphabet of Cameroon languages, adopted by the National Committee for the Unification and Harmonization of the Alphabets of Cameroon Languages from 7th to 9th March 1979 in Yaoundé. Yaoundé: University of Yaoundé, Faculty of Letters and Social Sciences, Dept. of African Languages and Linguistics.

UNDP. 2006. ''Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis. Human Development Report 2006.'' New York: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). [Human development index Adult literacy rate (% ages 15 and older) (HDI) http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/statistics/indicators/3.html ]

UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Africa. 1985. African Community Languages and Their Use in Literacy and Education: A Regional Survey. Dakar: UNESCO.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), "The World Factbook: Cameroon," https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cm.html

Vodafone. 2005. "Africa: The Impact of Mobile Phones." The Vodafone Policy Paper Series, Number 3, March 2005. http://www.vodafone.com/assets/files/en/GPP%20SIM%20paper.pdf

WikiEducator, "ICT4Africa/Country Report Cameroon," http://www.wikieducator.org/ICT4Africa/Country_Report_Cameroon

Wikipedia, "Communications in Cameroon," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_in_Cameroon

______, "Languages of Cameroon," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Cameroon

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