“If you are lucky enough to have a good connection, you won’t be able to dodge the nearly daily power cuts” Corona Abroad – Kamerun

Bild: Kélian Tinen

Kélian Tinen erzählt von seinem Eindruck vom Coronavirus in Kamerun.

Hey! My name is Kélian Tinen, I was born in the U.S.A. and have been living in Cameroon in the City of Douala since childhood. I am 17 year old and am currently studying at Savio High School.

Today, on 10 April 2020, there are 803 confirmed cases and twelve deaths of COVID-19 in Cameroon. The first case was confirmed on 6 March 2020 and concerned a French man who arrived in the capital, Yaoundé, on 24 February.

And as one can tell in the light of these numbers, the number of cases here has grown incredibly quickly. We are now the country with the second most cases in all of sub-Saharan Africa (it’s important to remember that 803 is the number of confirmed cases – it is very likely that there are in fact many more cases). Despite this fast progression of the virus, when I look out of the window, I still see the same number of cars on the highway.

Indeed, the government has taken some measures to prevent the spread of the virus: since the 17 March, every school of the country has closed, restaurants and other public places have to close at 6 pm, the taxis can take on a maximum of three  passengers at a time, awareness campaigns are on the TV and radio. Nonetheless, as this long enumeration suggests, there isn’t any containment procedure! Legally, you can still hang out in the street with your pals and chill every day.

And that’s explainable by a single reason: the Cameroonian government does not have the infrastructures and cannot meet the necessary cost of establishing and maintaining a containment procedure. Then, one might be wondering:  If the government can’t afford it, why don’t the Cameroonian people organize themselves to stay at home for a longer period?

I will answer this question by saying that the high and middle classes are of course making a few efforts to stay at home, but the issue is that most of the Cameroonians live from day to day. Here is an example of a classic family: The father of the family is a taxi or bike taxi driver and every day, by working hard from noon to the evening, he makes the money that his wife will use to buy a few ingredients at the marketplace to cook for one day. Thus, disturbing the routine of families can have big consequences such as the current taxi driver strike on the national highway which is a consequence of the government’s decision to restrict the number of clients. Furthermore, the fact that many people here think that Coronavirus is a “white people sickness” does not help.

To talk about school, in my French school we are doing some online classes on Discord and Zoom. Some of my friends in Cameroonian classes told me that they are also taking online classes. However, if that system seems effective, here in Cameroon we still have a few problems: many students don’t have access to a good Wi-Fi connection and have problems attending class. Additionally, if you are lucky enough to have a good connection, you won’t be able to dodge the nearly daily power cuts.

To conclude, I am not really positive about Cameroon’s ability to successfully go through this crisis. Despite the laudable endeavours of the health minister (Dr Manaouda Malachie), no one here is immobilised and hospitals are rather places to die and to get more sicknesses than anything else. Nonetheless, I keep hope alive and I still believe that in spite of all of these very unfavourable factors, Cameroon will miraculously cope!


A quick note on Coronavirus in Chad as told by a friend of mine in order to provide some insight into a second African country:

As of 10 April 2020, there are eleven confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Chad, all of them coming from outside of Chad. Because of this the government has put in place a curfew from 9 am to 6 pm and has decided to close public places in which more than 50 people might assemble.

In terms of school it is also complicated, mainly due to a lack of or issues with Internet connections.

On top of this crisis there has been a surge in attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group.