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Ride-hailing app Yango offers regulatory olive branch

By , Freelance Investigative Journalist
Cameroon , 17 Feb 2023
Patrick Timani, CEO/Co-founder of Bee Group, and Didier Theze, Cameroon Country Manager at Yango.
Patrick Timani, CEO/Co-founder of Bee Group, and Didier Theze, Cameroon Country Manager at Yango.

Ride-hailing app Yango, which operates under the Russian multinational technology company Yandex, has offered to act as a regulatory sandbox in Cameroon. This follows regulatory hurdles which prompted its journey to be officially halted.

A sandbox, according to the EU, "is a tool allowing businesses to explore and experiment with new and innovative products, services, or businesses under a regulator's supervision. It provides innovators with incentives to test their innovations in a controlled environment, allows regulators to better understand the technology, and fosters consumer choice in the long run."

Yango's international PR team has said that the company made a proposal to the telecommunications ministry to be a sandbox project that would support the regulating activities of ride-hailing digital platforms in Cameroon. However, the ministry had yet to respond favourably to the request.

Last week, the Minister of Transport, Ngalle Bibehe Jean Ernest Massena, suspended the activities of Yango's digital platform on the grounds that the company had failed to comply with road transport regulations despite a call to order.

"Activities of public transport operated via Yango's digital platform are suspended until they are brought up to standard," Massena said in a press statement.

The Minister was reacting to complaints by road transport trade unions that Yango was operating clandestinely and was engaged in unfair competition to the detriment of regular cab services providers.

Back in September 2022, Minister Massena gave Yango a two-month grace period for it to regularise its situation or face sanctions, including suspension.

Yango was required to be incorporated as a company, joint-venture, or subsidiary under Cameroonian law with a designated headquarters. The company was also asked to register with the tax department, obtain an electronic communications license, and open an account with a commercial bank.

In addition, Yango was ordered to indicate its fare, taxes, and other aspects of its pricing structure to clients, as well as periodically publish its terms of service to users.

Yango has denied being suspended in Cameroon. "The suspension letter is addressed to the partners of Yango, who are local transportation services providers using Yango Digital Platform, and it states that they should obtain additional licenses to work with the digital platform," the company claimed in a statement.

It said that it has been working closely with the different ministries covering ride-hailing in the country, including transport and posts and telecommunications. It believes that the suspension decision is a result of a misinterpretation of the business model it is bringing to Cameroon.

Yango has always maintained that it is solely an information service and that transportation services are provided by verified independent third parties. In Cameroon, it has designated Ridetech CAM to render supporting and auxiliary services of Yango's ride-hailing business.

As of press time, Yango's services were still running in the main cities of Yaounde and Douala where it has operations.

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