On Thursday, August 22nd 2019, the Cameroon Government launched a command centre in Yaounde to monitor 2000 CCTV cameras installed by Chinese technology giant, Huawei, in the country, with 7000 more to be installed in the future.
The command centre and surveillance cameras were built by the Chinese firm in partnership with the state-owned telecom operator, Camtel in a move which Cameroon law enforcement agencies claim will help combat insecurity in the country.
In September 2018, the first command centre was installed at the Gendarmerie Nationale — one of Cameroon’s National Police Force — and it was connected to about 1500 CCTV cameras.
Security officials have stated that by opting to use state of the art video surveillance systems, acts of banditry, terrorism and other banes of social peace can be effectively combated.
In 2015, Huawei installed about 2000 High Definition (HD) cameras in Kenya before the impending visit of Pope Francis. The company claimed that the project was responsible for a 46% drop in crime rates and 13.% growth in tourism, in 2016.
Despite the promise of safety and security, questions of privacy invasion abound as Huawei staff are reportedly reluctant to train local Camtel staff to use newly installed technology.
Earlier in August Huawei technicians reportedly helped the Ugandan and Zambian Government officials spy on their political opponents during electioneering.
And according to a report in January 2018, data was constantly leaked from servers installed by Huawei at African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to servers in Shanghai China. Huawei, however, denied any involvement in the data leak.
With questions surrounding Huawei’s activities and privacy in Africa, could privacy invasion be the price Africans have to pay to have safer cities?