The Cameroonian Minister of Posts and Telecoms, Minette Libom Li Likeng, and the Managing Director of Eneo, Joël Nana Kontchou, signed on 20 September 2016 in Yaounde, the capital of the country, an agreement on the retrocession to the State of Cameroon of a network of more than 700 Km of optic fiber built by the public electricity service concessionaire.
Officially, this investment worth a total of approximately FCfa 17 billion, we learn, was retroceded without financial compensation. “This agreement enables us to increase our national bandwidth capacity”, happily expressed Minister Libom LiLikeng, who did not mentioned the fate of the then-fine imposed on the electricity company by the telecoms regulatory body, due to the rollout of this fibre optic network.
Indeed, we can recall than the rollout of this network by Aes Sonel (who became Eneo after being bought by British fund Actis) earned the public electricity concessionaire a fine of FCfa 500 million. In the decision taken by the Telecoms Regulatory Agency (ART) on 18 December 2013, the regulatory body accused the electricity company of “operating an unauthorised private independent network”.
In other words, according to ART, this electricity production and distribution company had trampled on the Cameroonian law governing the telecoms sector, which granted until then the monopoly on inter-urban optic fiber rollout to the historical telecoms operator, Camtel.
With the implementation of this optic fiber network, experts at the Ministry of Posts and Telecoms of Cameroon even saw an ambition of the electricity company, to move into the internet provider market.
“We wanted to offer cabled internet and we were at the negotiations stage. Every time there was a stumbling block in the negotiations, ART threatened us with sanctions. We wanted to bring to Cameroon the Power-Line Communication technology (a technology through which low speed or broadband data is carried via electrical wiring by using advanced modulation techniques. Also known as PLC, Ed.)”, a manager in now-defunct Aes Sonel confirmed.