Lead Team: Three mobile operators are in talks with Cameroon’s telecoms
ministry for the country’s third mobile licence. The competition is between
India’s Bharti Airtel, Vietnam’s Vietel and Cable & Wireless subsidiary
companies with existing licences are South Africa’s MTN and France Telecom
Pierre Biyiti bi Essam, Cameroon’s telecoms and posts minister, told the
Cameroon Tribune that the negotiations are in final stages. He, however, did
not reveal the date when the winner will be selected.
We’re already at the final phase of the negotiations. This is business.” The
winner of the licence has to be able to compete with the existing operators, he
Majority of countries in Africa has penetration levels
lower than 5 percent, while African countries have experienced a steady uptake
of mobile communications.
A number of factors currently hamper the growth of this
region. These include low disposable income, lack of infrastructure in rural
areas and the shortage of bandwidth in most countries in the region, especially
in Cameroon and the Ivory Coast.
Countries such as
South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo (Democratic Republic), Lesotho, Nigeria
and Uganda had 181.7 million mobile and fixed telephony subscribers and 29.8
million Internet subscribers in 2010.
These countries will
have 266.1 million mobile and fixed subscribers and 77.5 million Internet
subscribers respectively in 2015, according to Frost & Sullivan.
West and Central Africa represents one of the
fastest-growing mobile communications market in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the
past few years, the region has witnessed a dramatic increase in mobile
subscriptions due mainly to the surge in mobile subscriptions in Nigeria. The
low levels of mobile broadband penetration in the region indicate that there is
room for growth.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan,
West and Central African Mobile Communications Market Tracker, finds that the
mobile communications markets in Nigeria, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast earned
combined revenues of $8.6 billion in 2009 and estimates this to reach $12.6
billion in 2016. From approximately 92.6 million in 2009, mobile subscribers
are expected to grow to 172.4 million in 2015.
The West and Central African region is one of the most
dynamic with more than 3 mobile operators in each country and massive
infrastructure development. The intense competition amongst mobile operators
has boosted market development in terms of offerings and technology deployed.
Unlike in other regions, most operators in Central and
West Africa have rolled out fibre optic backbone, thereby bypassing the
incumbent fixed line operators’ expensive transmission networks.
Although the mobile broadband penetration rate is less
than 1 percent in the three countries, they have experienced a considerable
uptake of broadband services due to the increasing adoption of social media and
decrease in tariffs. In Nigeria, mobile broadband has surpassed fixed broadband
subscriptions over the past 2 years and this trend is expected to be witnessed
in Cameroon and the Ivory Coast in the next 3 years.