(Business in Cameroon) - Minette Libom Li Likeng (photo), the Cameroonian Minister of Posts and Telecommunications signed on 26 November, a decree setting the conditions and operating rules of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) for access to the national electronic communications’ aggregation platform in Cameroon.
This platform is aimed at notably ensuring fair interconnection conditions, reducing the costs of mobile financial transactions and promoting financial inclusion. It will also give access to mobile financial services via a unique shortcode (#237#).
Philemon Zo'o Zame, Director of the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART), explains that “the said platform is housed at Campost [Cameroon's state-owned postal operator], which manages it, and is responsible for the implementation of the above-mentioned decree."
Therefore, Mr. Zo'o Zame invites network operators and electronic communications services providers to interconnect to it, within 30 days (by 26 December 2019) for the provision of mobile financial services.
Since July 2017, the Cameroonian government has been working on the creation of a single USSD code for Mobile Money services. Indeed, like telephone calls and other SMS, telephone operators operating in Cameroon use different codes. For instance, with Orange and MTN, #150# and *126# are the respective codes to access mobile money services. From now on, these operators will have to submit, for validation, the tariffs for access to the single USSD code.
It could bring more transparency to the mobile financial services market. Let’s note that microfinance company Express Union Finances, has regularly referred cases to the Ministry of Posts and telecommunications accusing MTN and Orange Cameroon of “anti-competitive practices.” According to the microfinance company, these practices are either through an increase of the prices for the use of the shortcode * 050# (which allows Express Union Finances’ clients make transactions on their accounts with their mobile phones), or outright removal of Express Union Finances' access to this USSD code.
These accusations were outrightly rejected by the two mobile operators who claim that they are not in partnership with Express Union on the disputed USSD code.