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Cameroon unveils Huawei-built video surveillance centre

Cameroon unveils Huawei-built video surveillance centre

Cameroon last week unveiled its national command centre for video surveillance facility, part of the country's Intelligent City Project.

The centre, implemented by Huawei, was formally introduced by Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute on 22 August 2019.

Huawei is the principal technology partner of state-run Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel) which provides the connectivity for transmission of footage. The centre also runs off Huawei equipment.

Huawei made headlines after a recent Wall Street Journal report implicated the company's technicians as part of an organised effort to help government representatives from Uganda, Zambia and Algeria to use technology to spy on critics and political opponents.

In Cameroon, a Camtel representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said when the Chinese carry out telecoms installations, engineers remain behind to manage infrastructure.

"They are reluctant to transfer technology to local staff because they want to remain there," the source disclosed.

Techies at Cameroon's Silicon Mountain, like Otto Akama, are now suspicious of Huawei and claim most of the telecommunications infrastructure is sourced from the Chinese tech firm.

The company, through Camtel, technically installs and manages the country's lone fibre optic backbone.

Huawei has yet to respond to requests for comment. However, it is on record as having publically denied any wrongdoing in any of its business operations.

Officials of the General Delegation of National Security say considering the security challenges Cameroon is facing, general mobilisation ought to remain constant.

A statement issued by security officials reads: "Efforts have so far been geared towards modernity, where safety of the citizens remains the focal point pf police action. By opting the use of the video surveillance systems throughout the national territory, the forces of law and order intend to combat acts of banditry, terrorism and other crimes that undermine social peace. Thus, the video surveillance is a reliable solution."

The pilot phase of the Cameroon Intelligent City Project started in August 2014 and consisted of 70 CCTV cameras in six localities, namely Yaounde, Douala, Garoua-Bouali, Kye-Ossi, Waza and Kousserie.

Approximately 1,500 cameras, 65 basic transmission stations, four control centres and 1,000 transceiver stations have already been installed.

This equipment has been deployed in the cities of Yaounde, Douala, Buea, Limbe, Kousseri, Waza, Garoua-Boualai, Bafoussam, Garoua and Kye-Ossi and installation is expected to continue in Bertoua, Maroua, Ngaoundere, Bamenda, Ebolowa, Kribi, Amchide, Fotokol and Kenzou.

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