In order to avoid a situation similar to Nigeria where it had to pay a hefty fine of US $1.67 billion for failure to register its subscribers in that country, MTN has disconnected its Cameroon customers who had not registered their numbers by June 30.
Prior to the move, the telco had run a campaign from April 11 to June 30 during which it urged its subscribers to get registered before the deadline. To ensure the exercise drew in as many people as possible, MTN Cameroon even went ahead to award subscribers with free airtime for registering during the campaign.
A 50-second video clip posted on the telco’s Facebook page on June 29 states: “Oh yes, exactly. And more information to complete your identification – ID card, localisation and signature. Before June 30, identify yourself to avoid losing your number. SMS ‘STATUS’ to 8758 to check your status and ‘LOC’ to find the nearest registration point. You will also receive free airtime to get identified and exist…”
To be reconnected, subscribers need to to complete the process by visiting the various MTN service centres across the country, in special identification centres, or at sales points of MTN’s distribution partners across all regions within 24 hours. However, failure to comply within the 24 hours will see the subscriber lose the number after a set timeframe.
In September last year, Cameroon Premier Philemon Yang banned the “haphazard sale” of Subscriber Identification Module or SIM cards on the streets.
The PM order barred mobile phone service retailers in the country from selling and identifying subscribers on the streets with new subscribers being directed to obtain SIM cards and identify themselves at the various service centers of the different mobile telephone operators as reported by the Cameroon Journal.
The order also stipulated that no individual would be allowed to own more than three SIM cards from same mobile network operator. Those who needed an exception were to provide concrete justifications for the request.
The subscribers’ information, once gathered by the operator, was to be forwarded to the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART).
The country’s MNOs were given 30 days from September 3 to apply the order.
As of December 2014, MTN had 10.1 million subscribers in Cameroon, making it the market leader followed by Orange with 6.2 million while Nexttel had 2 million customers using its network by May 2015 according to Wikipedia.