Fall from grace: protectionism and monopolies push Cameroon down broadband index

Olivier Nana Nzepa · Alison Gillwald · Enrico Calandro · Chenai Chair

Policy Brief 4: Cameroon, 2014

Poor policy decisions in Cameroon have impeded the growth of affordable, real broadband services that are taking off in many of the continent’s leading economies. Although the introduction of bundled products by Orange Cameroon has significantly reduced the price for mobile prepaid services, the country lags behind its African peers in the deployment of 3G services due to protectionist policies and weak regulatory environment. ADSL services are offered at exorbitant prices and at virtually narrowband speeds, way below the levels reached by the other African countries analysed in the Research ICT Africa Broadband Value for Money Index.

Highlights:

1. New cheaper products introduced into the market by both operators. In Q1 2014 MTN Cameroon and Orange Cameroon introduced cheaper voice products to the market, which positively shifted their ranking on the mobile voice index.

2. Protectionist regulatory barriers stop the deployment of 3G services. The monopoly granted to Viettel over 3G infrastructure and services does not allow the two other operators, MTN Cameroon and Orange Cameroon, to provide mobile broadband services.

3. High prices for both mobile data and ADSL. Compared to other African countries analysed, Cameroon’s mobile data and ADSL prices remain very high with amongst the lowest throughput on the continent (even at advertised speeds).

4. Slow ADSL and mobile broadband services. Since MTN Cameroon and Orange Cameroon cannot provide 3G services, mobile broadband does not go beyond 2.5G speeds. Camtel is still offering fixed ADSL services at 256 Kbps with a faster option of only 1Mbps.

5. The market needs to be freed up to offer high-speed broadband. The incumbent mobile operators need to be licensed to provide 3G services and the fixed market needs greater investment in the network to offer better speeds and regulated to enable service-based competition on its wholesale network.

Suggested citation

Calandro, E., Gillwald, A., Chair, C., & Nzepa, O. N. (2014). Fall from grace: Protectionism and monopolies push Cameroon down broadband index (Policy Brief No. 4). Research ICT Africa. https://researchictafrica.net/polbrf/Research_ICT_Africa_Policy_Briefs/2014_Policy_Brief_2_Cameroon.pdf