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Cameroon’s Mobile Phone Market Still Roomy – Experts 

By Divine Ntaryike Jr

Despite the advent on Cameroon’s mobile telephony market of a third operator, experts argue there is still ample space for at least two more. 

A survey ordered by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and conducted by Network Dynamics Associates Llc in 2010 projects that the market could welcome 8 million new subscribers by 2015. Add-on figures from the ministry indicate the country tallied 8 million active mobile users in 2009 for a penetration rate of 41.3 percent.

That is below the continental average of 50 percent in 2010, and far inferior to neighbouring Gabon with 85 percent. 

Several times, the government has slated its objective to attain a 76 percent penetration level and call rates of 10 FCFA per minute by 2015. In May 2011, PM Philemon Yang told a cabinet meeting that four new operators were eyeing the sector in Cameroon.  He instructed the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications to initiate calls for expression of interest in obtaining concession agreements.

A month later, Post and Telecommunications Minister Jean Pierre Biyiti bi Essam heralded the coming of two new operators by the third quarter of the year. 

At the moment, however, only striker Samuel Eto’o’s Set’Mobile is readying to flag off operations by January 21 next year.  On the sidelines, insiders are signaling the looming arrival of the Chinese Huawei.  Economists say the entry into the market of more operators will end the decade-old duopoly exercised by multinationals MTN and Orange, and culminate in cheaper call rates and better service quality.

The Network Dynamics Alliance survey revealed that 67 percent of Cameroon’s mobile telephone subscribers are willing to swap these operators for anyone proposing slashed rates currently hovering at just below 100 FCFA per minute.  Additionally, one in three users own two SIM (subscriber identification module) cards. 

Experts say based on such indicators, it is not surprising to hear that Set’Mobile SIMs are selling like hot cake in Douala.  They are loaded with 2,000 FCFA airtime credit and 500 SMS.  And that’s not all.  Officials say call rates will suit the living standards of Cameroonians.

“For strategic reasons, we cannot reveal our tariffs.  But you’ll discover our highly competitive rates in the days ahead.  There is plenty of room on the market in Cameroon,” Charles Gueret, Administrator and Managing Director of the newcomer company told reporters in Douala last December 22.  He added that Set’Mobile will play in the same league as MTN and Orange.

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