Cameroon will renew the operating licence of South African mobile communication group MTN and give the group a third generation (3G) licence for 125 million US dollars, industry sources said on Tuesday.
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The two leading operators in Cameroon – MTN and its rival Orange, a subsidiary of France’s Orange – have been locked in negotiations with the government over the renewal of their licences and clearance to offer 3G services.
Cameroon’s Minister of Post and Telecommunications Jean-Pierre Biyiti bi Essam said in a statement the government would hold a signing ceremony with MTN in Yaounde on Wednesday, but did not provide further details.
Sources said Cameroon had demanded and got 75 billion CFA Francs (125 million US dollars) each from both operators to renew the licences.
The sources said Orange was also expected to sign a renewal deal soon.
Cameroon’s third mobile operator Nexttel, owned by Vietnam’s Viettel Group, a state-owned mobile network operator wholly owned by the Ministry of Defence, received approval to offer 3G services when it launched last year.
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The approval of 3G services could boost Internet penetration in Central Africa’s biggest economy and spur growth in the online business sector.
Just 6 percent of Cameroon’s population has internet access, among the lowest in Africa, despite having more than 16 million mobile phone subscribers.