Vodafone closes down in Cameroon after partner loses licence

Vodafone has closed down its operation in Cameroon after only a year because its partner, Afrimax, lost its licence.

The company suspended operations in September and has decided that it is not commercially viable to resume.

Vodafone had operated since 2016 under agreement with Afrimax, which acquired its licence when it bought a company called Northwave. However, the Agence de Regulation des Telecommunications (ART, Telecoms Regulatory Agency) told both companies that the licence was not transferable.

The minister, Minette Libom Li Likeng, told Vodafone to apply for its own licence. “I’ve had discussions with Vodafone Cameroon officials in recent months, and I’ve told them that they have to apply for a licence in good form and will have to pay to provide 4G LTE to the population,” she said, as reported in Africa News.

However, Vodafone decided to withdraw entirely from the market. It announced on Friday: “After the withdrawal of the licence of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and the Telecoms Regulatory Board and the suspension of the services of 14 September 2017, the operator of the company, Afrimax Cameroon, concluded reluctantly that it was no longer commercially viable in Cameroon. As a result, Vodafone Cameroon has ceased operations with immediate effect.”

The company said to its subscribers: “All outstanding customer balances will be refunded through a mobile money transfer by the end of November 2017.”

Afrimax, based in the Netherlands, is a separate company from Vodafone, says it has “an existing 4G licence footprint covering 12 countries”, with a total population of 250 million. It added: “Afrimax is building the largest portfolio of 4G wireless broadband networks across sub-Saharan Africa.”

It entered into a partner markets agreement with Vodafone in July 2014, “an agreement which will significantly expand Vodafone Partner Markets presence in Africa”.

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