Vietnam telecom giant gets Cameroon mobile operator license

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Viettel Group has got a mobile operator's license in Cameroon and will become the third operator in the west central African country.

The military-owned company said Thursday (December 13) on its website that it received the information from the Cameroonian government on December 10 following bid earlier this year which also attracted foreign giants like India's Bharti Airtel, Morocco's Maroc Telecom, and Korea Telecom.

Viettel has pledged to cover 81 percent of the country with its network, providing 2G and 3G services.

It will invest 200 billion CFA francs (US$394 million) in Cameroon, which remains one of the few African countries to still have only 2G services.

Viettel will start operating in 2014 after 12 months of preparation, local newspaper Cameroon Tribune quoted Viettel's official as saying in mid December. The concession agreement for operations was signed in capital city Yaoundé on December 14.  

Viettel subsidiary Viettel Global has tied up with the local Bestinver Cameroun S.A.R.L for its Cameroon's operations, Viettel Cameroun S.A.R.L.

The country is Viettel's third market in the continent after Mozambique and Tanzania.

Cameroon, where South Africa's MTN and France's Orange are already present, has a population of more than 20 million with a per capita income of US$1,210 last year, according to World Bank statistics. There are around 11 million mobile subscribers there, Viettel said.

Media reports say that Viettel, one of Vietnam's three biggest telecom firms, is also eying Ethiopia and Kenya.

Le Dang Dung, a Viettel's deputy CEO, said last September that Africa is a promising market for Vietnamese firms, including in telecom, thesaigontimes.vn reported in the same month.

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The company also has operations in Cambodia and Laos near home and in Haiti and Peru further afield.

It aims to become among the world's 10 largest multinational telecom operators by 2015.

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