failed networks

Camtel, Orange, MTN, Nexttel… Cameroon’s telecoms watchdog doles out fines

By Omer Mbadi

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Posted on June 2, 2023 08:06

jad20230526-eco-cameroun-telecoms-camtel-photo2-1256×628-1685118985 © A Camtel shop in Yaoundé in 2023… Maboup
A Camtel shop in Yaoundé in 2023… Maboup

For the first time since 2019, the regulatory agency has imposed a fine – totalling $9.7m – on Cameroon’s three main telecoms providers.

On 25 May, the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART) fined four telecom operators in Cameroon a total of 6bn CFA franc ($9.7m).

Orange received the heaviest penalty with $3.5m, followed by Nexttel ($2.4m), MTN (2.2m) and Camtel ($1.2m). Indeed, more fines may be on the horizon.

The regulator has accused the operators of recurring failures in terms of network coverage and quality of service. “This is the first time that a sanction relating to quality has been imposed since the arrival of the ART’s director general [Philémon Zo’o Zame, who was appointed in 2017],” says one analyst.

These penalties came after formal notices were sent to telecom providers in November 2022 following observations made in the field in February by ART teams, who reported deterioration in the quality of service.

Consultations with the aim of making corrections did not produce the result expected by the ART.

2019: $5.6 million in fines

The initiative was taken seriously in Yaoundé, where Minette Libom Li Likeng, minister of posts and telecommunications, brought together the various players and stakeholders to find a solution. She also urged the heads of Camtel, MTN and Orange to make commitments to customers in messages widely relayed on social networks.

Heavy sanctions were also handed out in July 2019. At that time, regulators fined Orange, MTN and Nexttel CFA franc 3.5 billion (nearly €5.3m) for breaching the regulations on subscriber identification – in the midst of the fight against Boko Haram terrorism and a security crisis in the English-speaking north and southwestern regions.

The operators are expected to lodge an informal appeal with the ART within the next few days, to persuade it to reconsider its decision.

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