20, September 2017
Following a directive issued by the Cameroon’s Telecommunications Regulatory Agency, Vodafone Cameroon has confirmed it has suspended its internet services in the country until further notice. Vodafone Cameroon is operated by Afrimax under a non-equity partner market agreement with Vodafone Group. Authorities in Cameroon are making moves to compel Vodafone to apply for its own license.
Since it began operations in 2016, Vodafone had been using the license issued to Northwave SARL which was subsequently acquired by Afrimax Group to create Vodafone Cameroon. This arrangement, according to authorities, is illegal.
Minette Libom Li Likeng, Cameroon’s Minister of Posts and Telecommunications said he directed the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART) to withdraw the operating license issued to Northwave SARL, thus compelling Vodafone to apply for its own license – since the operator would not be allowed to operate until it secures a license from the government.
Likeng said the government has applied the law governing the establishment and operation of networks and supplies of electronic communication services authorisation system in Cameroon. Under the law, licenses are personal, non-transferable and do not confer any right of exclusivity. With this condition, Likeng said Northwave SARL’s operating license cannot be transferred to Vodafone Cameroon.
Likeng said, “I’ve had discussions with Vodafone Cameroon officials in recent months, and I’ve told them that they have to apply for a license in good form and will have to pay to provide 4G LTE to the population.”
Going forward, he confirmed that his ministry directed the company to suspend its plan to expand its operations to eight additional cities, adding that if allowed to continue to operate, Vodafone would not be competing fairly with other players who paid US$136 million (CFA75 billion) each for operating license.
Antoine Pamboro, CEO Vodafone Cameroon, in a statement apologised to customers and said the company is working hard to restore services as soon as possible.
“To date, Vodafone Cameroon has contributed 3 billion CFA to the State of Cameroon, including 2 billion CFA in taxes and duties and 1 billion CFA for regulatory fees. Vodafone Cameroon has 116 employees and indirectly created 1,055 jobs with more than half of the workforce composed of young graduates,” Pamboro stated.
Prior to the latest development, Vodafone was expanding its 4G LTE services across the country, starting with 8 regions following a partnership with CAMTEL. Richard Achu, Vodafone Cameroon’s Sales and Distribution Director, said the company will not renege on its vision to extend its operations across the country.
“Vodafone Cameroon will enable anyone with a 4G compatible equipment to benefit from the best 4G LTE network as it is already the case in Douala and Yaounde. We want to extend our 4G LTE ultra-fast network in the ten regions of the country before the end of the year. We will do our utmost best to achieve this,” Achu said.