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Cameroon’s mobile networks crucial for health services
Cameroon was for many years one of the few countries in Africa with only two competing mobile operators, MTN and Orange. After some delays, Nextell Cameroon launched a third network in late 2014, including the country’s first 3G mobile service. MTN and Orange both launched 3G services in March 2015, followed by LTE services at the end of 2015. Their investment programs indicate a commitment to rolling out mobile data services nationally over the next few years. This will considerably boost mobile broadband services in many rural areas of the country which are underserved by fixed-line infrastructure. The re-entry into the mobile market by the incumbent telco Camtel, through its Camtel Mobile division, was delayed by controversy regarding its licence. The operator reported having more than 4000,000 subscribers by early 2016, giving it a market share of a about 1.5%.
Fixed-line penetration in the country is extremely low, and the privatisation of Camtel’s fixed-line business has failed several times. Given these condition, the mobile sector has grown rapidly. It has become the main platform for internet access, while also adopting a crucial role in areas such as health through the m-health platforms managed by orange and MTN.
Mirroring a trend throughout developing markets, the average revenue per user (ARPU) in Cameroon’s mobile sector has fallen continuously as lower income groups gain access to services. The operators are developing new revenue streams from the virtually untapped Internet and broadband market by introducing mobile data and WiMAX wireless broadband services, as well as mobile banking.
Camtel was allowed to monopolise access to the SAT-3/WASC international fibre optic submarine cable until 2012. This had led to high prices and a grey market of unlicensed satellite gateway operators offering internet access and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. This changed with the country’s connection to the WACS cable and a new spur added to the ACE cable. In addition, Camtel is party to two new cables connecting to Nigeria and to Brazil, the latter cable expected to be in service by the end of 2017. These form part of the major expansion program underway to create a national fibre backbone network, so extending the reach and capacity of internet services.
- Camtel signs contract for Cameroon-Brazil Cable System, to be lit by end-2017;
- Government showcases ‘digital village’;
- Camtel handed newly built fibre loops in Douala and Yaounde;
- MTN launches its mobile health platform in Cameroon;
- Nigerian-Cameroon Submarine Cable System lit, initially with 40Gb/s;
- MNP expected to be launched in November 2016, managed by Huawei;
- MTN Business launches cloud platform in Cameroon;
- WACS cable becomes operational after Camtel builds link between the Limbe landing station and facilities in Douala;
- Nextell reports having three million subscribers by early 2016;
- MTN and Orange launch LTE services;
- National fibre rollout continues with new funding;
- Cameroon Railways looks to set up an independent fibre optic network linking rail stations;
- Report update includes regulator’s market data, telcos’ operating data to Q1 2016, recent market developments.
Market penetration rates in Cameroon’s telecoms sector – 2015 (e)
|Penetration of telecoms services:
|Mobile SIM (population)
MTN Cameroon, Orange CM, Camtel, Cameroon Mobile Telecommunications (CMT), Pastel, CamNet, MTN Network Solutions, Matrix Telecoms, Ringo, Nextell Cameroon (Viettel), YooMee.