Despite the new system put in place by the French Embassy in Cameroon to facilitate the visa procedure, many users are still struggling to get an appointment. "My children are stranded here because it is impossible to make an appointment to apply for a visa. This has been going on for several months,” an angry lady said.
Since January 23, 2023, the Embassy has introduced the 8180 line as the only way for users to require an appointment. The number provides access to a partner local company responsible for handling calls on behalf of the Embassy. "It is a reliable and easy service that will allow us to make the procedure more accessible to everyone,” the French ambassador, Thierry Marchand, said.
However, this does not seem to satisfy visa seekers. This situation has opened the door to scammers taking money from people with the promise of getting them a visa. Contacted by SBBC, the French embassy admitted that the 8180 line is experiencing disruptions. "Despite our efforts, the phone line has indeed been saturated with calls for several weeks. Cases of abuse have been reported to us. This situation disrupts the smooth running of the phone line, and leads to new inconveniences that we are now facing," says the French diplomatic mission.
The embassy says it is working to find efficient ways to remedy this situation. "We continue to engage in the search for the fastest and most efficient solutions to ensure the proper handling of visa applications”. According to data from the French Embassy in Cameroon, 20,000 visas were issued in 2022 out of 25,000 applications submitted in Yaoundé and Douala, including 5,000 student visas.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem