The increasing body of literature in the field of development theory holds that information and
communications technologies (ICTs) are essential for improving the living conditions in
developing countries. Since this view is shared by many governments and international
organizations it is also a foundation for policy making. In this thesis I examine the role of ICTbased
entrepreneurship in Cameroon and how such entrepreneurs can improve the economic
conditions in the developing world. Using a qualitative approach I do a case study by mapping
small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Cameroon's ICT industry and identify the key
drivers and barriers for the entrepreneurial process of ICT development.
The data is mainly collected from field work in Cameroon during two months in 2010. The
method is influenced by ethnography and apart from observations, includes semi structured
interviews with 14 contributors and a survey of 20 Internet cafés. The empirical material
analyzed in a development context based on a research model using theories of ICT
development, institutional economics and entrepreneurship.
Weak institutions are often theorized to be the main reasons why sub-Saharan Africa is behind in
the economic progress and the study gives many examples of how ICT-based entrepreneurship
can overcome weak institutions in Cameroon. Conversely, it also demonstrates that ICT-based
entrepreneurship can create lock-ins and reinforce bad structures.
In the context of this study the entrepreneurial process was found to be characterized by a strong
commitment to the community, social groups and family. The most common perceived barriers
among the entrepreneurs are governmental centralization, bureaucracy and corruption. The
difficulty in getting funding is also a common obstacle.
The study further shows that ICT entrepreneurs have an important role for increasing the level of
ICT awareness. Internet cafés have many important functions in the society and serve many
other purposes than just providing Internet. Private education centers are common and very
important since they can make up for the malfunctions of the national education system.
However, many education centers might have a wrong focus and could be made more efficient.