Cameroon - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Market Insights and Statistics
Orange and MTN expand 3G services to compete in the mobile data market
Cameroon was for many years one of only a few countries in Africa with only two competing mobile operators, MTN and Orange. After various 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, and their investment commitments suggest an aggressive roll-out of mobile data services during the next three years, which will considerable boost mobile broadband services in many areas of the country. The re-entry into the mobile market by the fixed-line incumbent Camtel, through its Camtel Mobile division, was delayed by controversy regarding its licence, but a recent vendor agreement will see voice and data services launched commercially later in 2015.
The result of the restrictive market structure has been a mobile market penetration rate below the regional average and also below that of other countries with similar GDP per capita levels. Fixed-line penetration is extremely low, and the privatisation of Camtel's fixed-line business has failed several times.
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 has begun to change, following the connection to the WACS cable. A new spur being built will finally connect the country to the ACE cable later in 2015. A major expansion program for a national fibre backbone network is also underway with funding from the Word Bank and China.
Estimated market penetration rates in Cameroon's telecoms sector end-2015 (e)
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 81%
Fixed/fixed-wireless | 5%
Internet | 7%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Nextell reports having signed up two million customers since launching services in September 2014;
Government builds landing point and 650km spur cable to connect to the ACE cable;
Camtel contracts Huawei to develop GSM network;
MTN Cameroon equips 800 base stations with solar panels;
Camtel begins constructing a fibre link between Limbe and Batoke, to connect to the WACS submarine cable;
MTN and Orange launch 3G services;
Government announces plans to build two Internet exchange Points;
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 to September 2014, telcos' operating data to Q1 2015, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
MTN Cameroon; Orange CM; Camtel; Cameroon Mobile Telecommunications (CMT); Pastel; CamNet; MTN Network Solutions; Matrix Telecoms; Ringo, Nextell Cameroon (Viettel), YooMee.