The Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART) has recently imposed fines totaling CFA6 billion on mobile operators Camtel, MTN, Orange, and Viettel for repeated violations of their contractual obligations.
Camtel, the longstanding telecommunications operator in Cameroon, received a fine of CFA800 million. The South African group MTN's subsidiary was hit with a CFA1.4 billion penalty. Orange Cameroon, which belongs to the French group bearing the same name, was sanctioned with a CFA2 billion fine, while Viettel, operating under the brand name Nexttel in Cameroon, was imposed a CFA1.6 billion fine.
These penalties arise from the regulator's accusations of "recurrent breaches" related to obligations of coverage and service quality outlined in each operator's respective contractual agreements.
ART's Director General, Philémon Zo'o Zame, shed light on the background of these penalties in a press release dated April 25, 2023. According to him, the sanctions were levied after numerous inspections were carried out in 2022 and 2023, and several warnings issued, per existing regulations. Zame further clarified, "The penalties mentioned above do not preclude the possibility of additional administrative sanctions against these operators, which may include reduction of the concession period and/or its withdrawal."
On February 13, amidst a consistent decline in service quality, ART issued a stern warning to operators. The regulatory body cautioned that "repeated breaches" of their commitments could lead to penalties, including the withdrawal of their operational licenses. "ART will leverage all available resources to ensure mobile phone concessionaires across the country deliver satisfactory service quality to subscribers," Zame had affirmed at the time.
These penalties were announced shortly after Orange, MTN, and Camtel declared they had initiated measures to enhance their service quality. These steps were announced in the wake of a crisis meeting convened by the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications (Minpostel) on April 27, during a period of ongoing disputes over network quality and costs.