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Conflict, vandalism threaten Cameroon’s telecommunications

By , Freelance Investigative Journalist
Cameroon , 23 Mar 2020

State-owned telco Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel) has had its network infrastructure vandalised on several occasions, according to the company’s General Manager, Judith Yah Sunday.

Cameroon's telecommunications Industry has lost pre-tax turnover of over FCFA 25-billion since conflict erupted in 2016, according to labour organisation.
Cameroon's telecommunications Industry has lost pre-tax turnover of over FCFA 25-billion since conflict erupted in 2016, according to labour organisation.

In an interview with Cameroon Tribune, Sunday said the criminal acts have significantly undermined huge investments made by the government of Cameroon.

“We have effectively registered numerous cases of acts of vandalism on our optic fibre network which has significantly impacted the quality of services offered to our subscribers,” Sunday is quoted as saying.

In January 2020, Camtel registered 19 attacks in the first 20 days of the month.

Sunday added that the attacks are presumed to have been carried out by individuals wanting to deprive the state, its institutions and the diplomatic missions accredited to Cameroon of vital communications.

In the face of these, Camtel has had to act swiftly Sunday said: “We have sought the assistance of authorities in charge of territorial security for coercive actions. The diligence and swiftness with which these actions have been undertaken have borne fruit and we have seen a certain level of calm in the last few weeks.”

Other telcos in Cameroon, including MTN, Orange and Nexttel, have reported destruction of their infrastructure in some parts of the country, especially in the restive English-speaking regions.

MTN Cameroon, for instance, said over 200 of their transmission sites had been affected.

Local labour organisation Groupement inter-patronal du Cameroun (Gicam) described the telecommunications industry as one of the hardest hit in the long-drawn conflict, “with the systematic destruction of antennas, transmission sites and a geometric fall in turnover.”

In its latest report published in December 2019, Gicam revealed that the telecoms sector in the restive regions, mainly led by Camtel, MTN Cameroon, Orange Cameroun and Nexttel, had infrastructure valued over FCFA 567-million destroyed.

The sector has also lost pre-tax turnover of more than FCFA 25-billion since local conflict erupted in 2016.

Gicam has stated previously that out of a total of 618 antennas and transmission sites in the restive areas, 114 were fully or partially destroyed as of July 2018.

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