Cameroon: Biya’s controversial laptop offer resurfaces

Higher education institutions in Cameroon are mobilizing resources to get their students eligible for the controversial laptop computers  from President Paul Biya. The atmosphere at the University of Yaoundé is rather tense. Students have barely no time left for  online registration , which ends on June 15.
After  the online registration, they are expected to have themselves fingerprinted. No one should collect more than one computer, they say.
This has put some pressure on students, as they are forced to stand on very long queues for several hours.


“If we don’t complete it today, we will come back tomorrow,” a student said on Tuesday, scared by the sheer numbers of people ready to leave their fingerprints.
“I will go there[campus of the University of Yaoundé I] tomorrow as early as possible, even if it means being there by 5 am,” another student disclosed. “I learned there are thousands of people there,” he added.
For a student to be eligible for the computer, they must have paid their fees, get registered online and have themselves fingerprinted.
Biya announced the controversial laptop offer in July 2017. In all, 500,000 laptop computers will be distributed to students in public and state-recognised private institutions of higher learning for the 2016/2017 academic year.
The move, which Paul Biya claims is to help Cameroonians join the digital race, is seen by  pundits as a political gesture.
Critics of Biya argue that the president wants to buy the conscience of voters, given that presidential election comes up next year.
The laptops were to be distributed to students several months back yet uncertainty still hovers around. Students are already taking their end-of-year exams when they cannot tell the date the computers will be given to them.
Cameroon has loaned a huge sum of FCFA 75 billion to buy the computers from a Chinese firm.
This, pundits say, is a terrible burden on taxpayers.

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