Signs and stores
The infrastructure in Cameroon is so different from other places we have visited before, it was very difficult for us at first to find any store selling things that we want to buy. It is because that they do not carry the signs which we are used to associate with the goods or products we want to buy. Many items are sold only on market days, Tuesday and Saturday in Buea. All vegetables, fruits, kitchen supplies, and other things for bathrooms are sold with choice only in the market. Certainly they do not need any signs for advertisements. So the signs on the highway are for mobile phones, drinks, and hotels. The signs are used to provide directions to get to a particular store, especially when the storefront is not on the main street. People seem to know what the stores are selling by looking at their set-ups --- what is in the front of the stores and what kind of posters do they have. The only signs that we are familiar are for gasoline companies --- Mobile, Shell, and Texaco --- the gas stations' set-ups are also the same as the stores in other places.
We have only seen department stores in Douala, which is 75km away. There is no department store here in Buea. We have not seen a shoe store neither. Shoes are sold on market days by individuals as well. There are some stores selling electrical, plumbing supplies, but they are very limited. Music tapes are sold in stores selling players, radios, and speakers. Most popular items on sale now are the mobile phones, not only are there stores selling new phones, there are a lot of stores selling phone cards. All mobile phones used these prepaid cards, you buy new cards when your time on the cards are used. Each card is about $8.00, and the charge is always a per minute charge depending on where you call. This is very convenient, and certainly is enjoying a big boom in this country. Most of homes do not have a phone line and getting one is very difficult, we will not be surprised that they will skip the phone line connections to get all mobile communications at home.
There is only one TV channel from Cameroon, there is not much ads other than those for mobile phones and drinks. For us to get CNN, we have to get cable TV whose channels are all in French except CNN. Almost all goods advertised on TV could not be purchased in Buea. There are no signs or stores that could be recognized nationally, again except mobile phones and drinks. Believe it or not , McDonald is not in Cameroon! The American made things we see regularly in public, are Coca Cola, and Sprite, no diet drinks available any where in Cameroon.