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Mobil phones: luxury, toys or important communication gadgets?Students, Pupils in Mobile Phone Frenzy : The ever dwindling prices of cell phones are adversely affecting school activities.
In the 90s when cell phones were introduced in Cameroon, owning one was considered as a luxury. The phones were sold at exorbitant prices. With time it became a technological tool for business. It eased contact between business persons and very useful in transactions. Barely a decade later, the desire for cell phones spread to other citizens who found it useful in getting into contact even for other social reasons with one another. As such, the number of users kept increasing in spite of the rapidly increasing prices.
The trend also implied that more communication companies were attracted into the business. Apart from the Cameroon Mobile Telephone company at the start, two other companies came in – MTN and Orange with networks that stretched almost all over the country. The competition for leadership in the market came with a “price war”. However, the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency was born to instill order in the sector. With the increase in networks of the mobile phone companies in Cameroon, the prices of cell phones in the market also dropped significantly. This has also led to another kind of difficulty – that of managing the use of phones.
Mobile phones are so common place nowadays that even children own them. Their use has been made easy that even illiterate mothers can manipulate them, or simply receive and make calls. A trader in cell phones explained that those which used to cost 150,000 CFA are now sold at 15,000CFA. Phones with special devises like digital cameras which could be bought for 200,000CFA and more can be bought now for 25,000CFA and at promotion price which is offered with a sim card and air time credit for a year, spread out in 1000CFA each month.
In Akwa, Douala traders in phones virtually harass people on shopping treats to buy phones. Talking to some of the young men, they said the prices of phones have dropped because of the technological boom. They said that as technology improves in Europe they produce more sophisticated phones such that the existing ones become out dated and the prices drop. Phones are so cheap now that almost everyone can own one. A trader, Divine Samusi also added that some of them work as middlemen for some of the mobile phones companies by bringing more clients.
Another trader Moses Obasi said they buy from those who go to Dubai to buy phones to sell in Cameroon, or sometimes sell for them and they receive a reward for their services.
In some homes today parents buy cell phones as gifts to their children. Some parents offer cell phones to children who pass their examinations. Here lies the problem. Many children are unable to use their phones rationally. It is even more disturbing because students are not allowed to use cell phones in schools. The tendency is that many students fidget in class with their phones and are therefore unable to follow their classes diligently.
Author : Effa Tambenkongho
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