Network Coverage in Cameroon

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Is activating your international roaming ideal or is it easier to purchase a pre paid sim card on arrival? Melissa Jane Cook probes the alternatives of cellular connections in Cameroon.

Lizzy Fondufe, the Roaming Coordinator for MTN Cameroon believes that roaming is essential for the business traveller.  “Imagine a top level executive travelling on business to a foreign country in West Africa and not being able to communicate at their convenience; the scenario could be one of many, flight arrives late, cancelled hotel booking, no one to pick up at port of arrival, business meetings rescheduled, how do you correct the event of such a mix up and change of plans.”  By simply having the roaming service Fondufe maintains you are reachable at any time and place. She acknowledges that some people argue that roaming is expensive; and for those that are budget conscious, are advised to limit their calls to what they consider necessary.

Pre Paid sim Cards

Buying a pre paid sim card could also be an alternative for the budget conscious traveller, but bear in mind that times are changing in the world of telecommunications. Previously prepaid SIM’s could be purchased by a simple exchange of cash at a distributor or retailer location, the Regulator in Cameroon is now changing the rules. Currently the purchaser of a local SIM needs to be identified. The identification process needs identity documentation, passport photos and time, all of which a business traveller may not necessarily have. MTN Cameroon issues pre-paid cards in the local market. Fondufe remarks that the market in Cameroon is predominantly prepaid with 99% of subscriber base using this service option. It is therefore indispensable for MTN Cameroon and of major importance to cater for and satisfy all customers who fall under this category of usage. Fondufe conveys that the purchasing of the pre-paid card is relatively affordable by many. Orange also offers pre paid sim Cards.

Wally Gaynor, Managing Director of Club Travel expresses that generally they advise their clients not to use their international roaming for obvious reasons – expense being the major inconvenience. Their advice to clients is to either buy a local sim on arrival which has draw backs in terms of leaving home not knowing what the local number will be and friends/family at home trying to contact them. Gaynor reveals that the travel industry has recently discovered Maxroam which is a global sim card. Stuart Cloete from Maxroam suggests that roaming is certainly a hot topic at the moment especially with the exorbitant bills people receive after returning from West Africa. Maxroam specialises in reducing roaming rates for people, but uniquely allows the customer to keep in contact on their regular cell number from home without paying roaming fees.

Gerhard Estherhuyse, General Manager – Management Consulting of Tourvest Travel Services  suggests that when arriving in Cameroon it is ideal to  purchase a pre paid sim card from a local operator. Ideally you should have a dual sim card phone. You can therefore make calls locally using the pre paid sim. Estherhuyse admits that there is no easy way around it. There is also the option of downloading the Skype application onto your phone.

Internet

Currently the MTN internet option is only available on the postpaid SIM card. The prepaid SIM cards have voice and SMS services operational. MTN is hoping to upgrade their network by integrating internet services in the coming months for the prepaid. This addition is very much anticipated as it will provide a completely integrated roaming service to those who select the prepaid option.

Other Network Providers

Camtel is both a fixed and wireless CDMA operator. In terms of market share, MTN Cameroon is the largest with 61% of the local market. Only MTN Cameroon and Orange currently offer roaming services.

Roaming Partners

Cell C

All calls made while roaming will be charged to your Cell C mobile phone account in South Africa. You will be charged for all calls, both incoming and outgoing. All calls and SMS charges will include the foreign network charge, plus a local roaming charge.

Network

Local

International        

SMS

Receive a Call

Conference Call

MTN

R7.13

R16.34

R4.34

R5.52

Yes

Orange

R7.25

R16.97

R4.94

R5.52

Yes

 

Vodafone – Vodacom partner network

If you are a Top Up or a prepaid customer, make sure that you have taken enough airtime with you. You can load the airtime before you leave, or you can take vouchers from South Africa with you to recharge while you are abroad.