Cameroon anticipating SAIL submarine cable link with Brazil

Cameroon anticipating SAIL submarine cable link with Brazil

The ICT sector in Cameroon contributes only about 3.5% of GDP, which is low for the region.

The sector requires considerable development for the country to make better use of the digital economy, according to Research & Markets. To this end the government has in train its Cameroon Digital 2020 program, aimed at improving connectivity nationally. A large number of small ICT projects form part of the overall program.

The country will greatly benefit from the SAIL submarine cable providing a direct link to Brazil, and so onto other countries in the Americas. The cable, expected to be ready for service in late 2018, will improve international bandwidth and lead to further reductions in access prices for consumers.

Cameroon was for many years one of the few countries in Africa with only two competing mobile operators, MTN Cameroon and Orange Cameroon. After some delays, Nextell Cameroon (majority-owned by Viettel) launched a third network in late 2014, including the country's first 3G mobile service. The operator has grown swiftly, signing up more than three million subscribers and claiming a 16% market share.

Competition in 3G followed in early 2015 when both MTN and Orange launched services. Mobile broadband based on LTE was established at the end of 2015 and this has been the catalyst for a fast-developing mobile broadband sector. The investment programs among operators over the next few years will considerably boost mobile broadband services in rural areas of the country, many of which are underserved by fixed-line infrastructure.

Fixed-line penetration in the country is extremely low, and the privatisation of Camtel's fixed-line business has failed several times. Given these condition, fixed-line services are relatively insignificant in terms of internet connectivity.

Further development is quickening in mobile banking and commerce, with both the MTN Money and Orange Money platforms making considerable progress in facilitating services for customers, the number of which approaches six million.

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