EXCLUSIVE: English is Almost Nonexistent on Cameroon Gov’t Websites

Cameroon President Paul Biya

By Tapuka Gerald, Dec. 22, 2016

Cameroon Journal, Yaounde – President Paul Biya in some of his recent speeches to the youths has said repeatedly that the present generation is “an android generation.” But the irony is that in Cameroon at the gov’t level, very little is left to be seen in that direction. In an epoch where everything is going digital, in Cameroon most ministries websites are either not well equipped, outdated, doesn’t exist at all or are just in one language (French) despite the bilingualism that is preached every day by gov’t officials.

Perhaps, as observers would contend, it is because majority of the present generation of Ministers are of the old school and with their fast advancing age and their stereotype nature, they have remained fixated  in mind to their old ways of doing things.

The Cameroon Journal made a study of the websites of some 15 Cameroon Ministries, the Prime Ministry and the Presidency and here are the results;

In this website belonging to the Ministry of Secondary Education, Louis Bapes Bapes, long fired is still listed as Secondary Education Minister

Presidency of the Republic of Cameroon www.prc.cm

The Presidency of the Republic supposed to be the chief institution in Cameroon. But its website is so horribly fabricated – it is difficult to open and sometimes it is not accessible for weeks from most public connections. The website focuses basically on the activities of President Biya and his wife Chantal. Not much is published in it or said about the Presidency as an institution. It however, carries a link through which you can write to the President, that is, if he ever sees it – unlike in most websites, there is never a confirmation whether the mail went to the president.

The Prime Minister’s Office

A click on www.spm.gov.cm should land any guest to the Prime Minister’s office online. But as important as that office is as the central coordination unit of governmental actions, the website is largely outdated and is flooded with old information. The English link on the front-page doesn’t work. When clicked, you get the message “The requested

The Prime Minister’s website, appears to be bilingual but very little in English in it.

page does not exist!” The news column still has as latest news, the Common Wealth Parliamentary meeting which took place in 2014.

As of November 2016, the latest information on the website was published on August 25, 2016. The website pretends to be bilingual with information in both languages. But through it, mostly news stories are in both languages. The bulk of documents on the site is mainly carried in French. Even the English section of the website still has most content but in French.

The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization www.minatd.cm and www.minatd.cm/gov

The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization runs two websites. The first is www.minatd.cm. The website opens with a message by the minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, published since the dawn of 2015. The most recent information posted dates back to February 2016; “Public

Accountants Urged to Be Assiduous in Service.” The English section of the website is very scanty with little in English and majority in French. The French section carries just near latest information.

The second website of same Ministry is www.minatd.cm/gov but filled with outdated information. Here English is almost forgotten as the latest information in English goes back to 2013. It has two legal documents published in 2006 and all are in French.

Ministry of Basic Education www.minedub.cm

English is given its statutory second class status even though in the homepage the website pretends to be bilingual. The English site is a mixture of both French and English information. A click on any English link leads to information in French. Like other ministerial websites most of the information here is outdated. The latest information there was published since August 3, 2016, about official school reopening.

Ministry of Secondary Education www.minesec.cm

This is the homepage of the Ministry of Secondary Education.

The website of the Ministry of Secondary Education reveals some embarrassing truths. More than one year after the appointment of Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle to replace Louis Bappes Bappes and his subsequent death, the website still carries Bappes’ name and photo as current Minister of Secondary Education. Most of the other information is also outdated with the latest published document dating as far back as 2010 which was the handing over of computers to planning units of the ministry. The only recent information is the appointment of school authorities at the beginning of the current academic year.

Ministry of Higher Education www.minesup.gov.cm

The website is virtually empty. But thanks to Fame Ndongo’s exploits, they found his biography to fill the site with. The site has a display of Fame Ndongo’s photo and that of the SG. It carries almost nothing else other than a detailed biography of Ndongo with all his awards and merits. Apart from the Israeli government scholarship for 2017/2018 academic year all other information is in French.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security www.mintss.gov.cm

Headed by Gregoire Owona, it seems to be the most organized and bilingual ministerial website even though it falls below standards. It carries the photos from a retirement forum which took place in July 2016, but the wordings are in French. It has a description of the ministry including all regional services and their heads in both French and

English. However, most official downloadable documents are in French including the Labour Code. In general the French section is much more organized than the English.

Ministry of Public Health www.minsante.cm

Andre Mama Fouda the minister in charge here battles with bilingualism in the public but hasn’t bothered to make the website of his Ministry bilingual. Almost everything is in French at the opening but for the word “welcome.” The English section is still saturated with information in French and where it is in English it would appear in very faint ink. A click on any of the English links opens in French.  Sometimes it also involves a mixture of French and English. The only carefully constructed pieces in English are the biography of the SG, Koulla Sinata Shiro and the pharmacies on call.

Ministry of Youth Affairs www.minjec.gov.cm

Another monolingual website is that of Monouna Foutso’s Youth Affairs Ministry. With old and outdated information almost everything is written in French with just some few English headings which when clicked instead lead to information in French.

Ministry of Social Affairs and the Family www.minas.cm

The Ministry of Social Affairs headed by Irene Pauline Nguene has one of the most bilingual websites. It tries to strike a balance between English and French even though there are still some disparities. The website carries so much information but very old and outdated. What it called “dernières information” dates back to 9 August 2016 and it was the launching of International Population Day celebrations in Cameroon.

Ministry of Women’s empowerment and the family www.minproff.cm

This one is a strictly French website and when you click on something that looks like English, it opens up a series of headings with nothing inside. The only bilingual information is the address of the Minister, Marie Therese Abena Ondoua. Information on the website like elsewhere is all in French and not updated. Besides, many of the pages are blank. The website looks confusing and disorderly; you click on some pages it tells you “error” on others it tells you it “might have been removed or temporally unavailable.”

Ministry of Sports and Physical Education www.minsep.cm

A sadder situation prevails in this Ministry. Even information about the just ended Women’s AFCON which Cameroon hosted is not available. It opens with a home page that carries very old information like the installation of the Minister, Bidoung Mpkatt in October 2015, and the FECAFOOT saga which goes back to November 2015. It also carries

the preparations for the African Youth Games of 2014. The website has two stories in English only; the 2014 African Youth Games preparations and Supporting Sports projects, all stories of 2014. At the place of the Minister’s biography is his installation photo. Most of the pages lead to blank pages carrying no information. Even the site for international competitions that Cameroon has been a part has nothing.

Ministry of Justice and Keeper of the Seals www.minjustice.gov.cm

Headed by Laurent Esso, the website appears to have been updated because of the current strike by Anglophone Lawyers. The website carries news about the strike and the translated version of OHADA on November 24, 2016 and these are the only two news items in both languages. The rest is uniquely in French. The English part of the website has no difference with the main site which is in French. The website like others is inundated with outdated information. A click on many of the headings leads to blank pages. It carries some documents that upon download you find nothing in them.

Ministry of Water Resources and Energy www.minee.cm

At its launching it looks like a well-constructed site but like many others it carries outdated information with the latest talking about the Inter ministerial committee to examine programmes which was posted on August 30, 2016. The website carries the Minister’s biography, Basile Atangana Kouna in both languages but with poor English translation and that is the only information in English as the other headlines either don’t carry any information or are all in French.

Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation www.minresi.cm

Opening the website all information is in French. They are however, outdated with the latest being a scientific conference on August 9, 2016. The website, just like those mentioned previously is basically French with just a handful of information in English. A click on some of the items in English leads to stories in French. For example, a welcome address of the minister, Madeleine Tchuente which should appear in English when clicked, leads to the same address in French. It carries the names and photos of the minister’s closest collaborators and a description of each department.

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, www.minader.cm

Like the others, it also carries very old and outdated news dating back to 2011; here we are talking of news about the Agro Pastoral show, and the entire news section of the website is talking only about the Ebolowa Agro Pastoral show of five years ago. There are many headlines with no information. Even the site of the Minister’s biography, Henri Eyebe Ayissi carries only his photo. The programme and project site carries project as old as 2012. The latest statistics on the website goes back to March 2013. The English version of the website carries very little useful

information. Most of what is found there is poorly translated or not current. On the website the names of dead persons still appear as in active service. For example, the GM of CDC as listed in it is Henry Njalla Quan even though he died in 2012. Same thing with PAMOL where it is stated that the GM is Chief Obi-Okpun Wanobi Osang even though he is of late and replaced by Mekanya Charles Okon. Take the translation of SEMRY (Société d’Expansion et des Modernisations de Riziculture de Yagoua) translated into English as the National Corporation for the Expansion and Modernisation of Rice Cultivation in Yagoua. According to the website, it is the Society for the Expansion and Modernisation of Rice Cultivation in Yagoua.

Ministry of Commercehttp://www.mincommerce.gov.cm

Information on the website fluctuates between English and French but very outdated. Most information on it is appointments dating back to 2012. Luc Margloire Mbarga Atangana’s welcome word was done in 2014 and poorly translated to English with glaring mistakes to the extent that it becomes very difficult to understand what the minister is trying to say. At the opening of the website, one is welcomed by a photo album which is also very outdated. There is gross disparity between the English and French pages of the website with the latter carrying information of October 2016 while the former has mostly outdated information.

Ministry of Small and Medium Size Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicraftwww.minpmeesa.gov.cm

Headed by Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa, the website is only available in French and nothing in English. Even the “mybusiness.com” link on the page opens only in French. Like other ministries, it also carries mostly outdated information.

Ministry of Urban Development and Housinghttp://www.minhdu.gov.cm

It is one of the most bilingual and updated websites with articles published in November 2016. However, the English page of the site carries a mixture of both French and English information while the French site is faithful to its language only. A click on some of the highlighted materials in English leads to a French page like “The Minister”

which opens with the photo of Jean Claude Mbwentchou with information about him in French only followed by the phrase “there are no translations available.”

Ministry of State Property, Surveys and Land Tenurehttp://www.gutf.cm

The website also carries information in both languages with remarkable disparities and most of the information is available only in pdf format, meaning you must download even news worthy information before you read. One of the rare messages to read without downloading is the welcome message from the Minister, Jacqueline Koung A Bissike. Like in other ministries, all official texts to be downloaded are in French.

Ministry of Public Service and Administrative Reforms www.minfopra.gov.cm

This is the most updated ministerial website in Cameroon perhaps because it is the ministry that organizes most recruitment into the public service. Hence, most of the information found on the website centers on recruitment into the public service or the launch of a public service exam. Apart from this good news, the website is also inundated with outdated information and the gross disparity between French and English is visible with most information in French only. Even the English section carries information in French.

Apart from some public service exams, the only visible information in English is the Commonwealth Public service ministers meeting in Yaoundé which took place far back in 2010. The website also carries the biography of Minister Michel Ange Angouing.

I summary, the disparity between French and English in these websites is quite glaring. All the web addresses are abbreviated in French. Despite the availability of translation units in these ministries, information is still uploaded in one language. Moreover, these same ministries have communication units, yet their websites are outdated. A user cannot grasp the functioning of any ministry in Cameroon from the comfort of his computer or android phone.


 

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