March 10, 2015 / 7:50 PM / 4 years ago

Cameroon to renew MTN mobile license, approve 3G

A man speaks on a mobile phone as he walks past a MTN shop at a shopping mall south of Johannesburg June 6, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon will renew the operating license of South African mobile communication group MTN and give the group a third generation (3G) license for $125 million, industry sources said on Tuesday.

The two leading operators in Cameroon - MTN and its rival Orange, a subsidiary of France’s Orange - have been locked in negotiations with the government over the renewal of their licenses and clearance to offer 3G services.

Cameroon’s Minister of Post and Telecommunications Jean-Pierre Biyiti bi Essam said in a statement the government would hold a signing ceremony with MTN in Yaounde on Wednesday, but did not provide further details.

Sources said Cameroon had demanded and got 75 billion CFA Francs ($125 million) each from both operators to renew the licenses.

The sources said Orange was also expected to sign a renewal deal soon.

Cameroon’s third mobile operator Nexttel, owned by Vietnam’s Viettel Group, a state-owned mobile network operator wholly owned by the Ministry of Defence, received approval to offer 3G services when it launched last year.

The approval of 3G services could boost Internet penetration in Central Africa’s biggest economy and spur growth in the online business sector.

Just 6 percent of Cameroon’s population has internet access, among the lowest in Africa, despite having more than 16 million mobile phone subscribers.

Reporting by Sylvain Andzongo and Anne Mireille Nzouankeu; Writing by Bate Felix; editing by Susan Thomas

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