Business in Cameroon | The Cameroonian customs intercepted last August 27-28 a cargo of 1,640 smuggled mobile phones on the Garoua-Ngaoundéré road, northern region. The shipment was supposed to contain fresh dates and kola nuts, according to the documents presented by the smugglers, the customs bureau said.
Phone smuggling deprives the Cameroonian Treasury of an estimated CFA12 billion each year. Indeed, official data show that the country only collects about one billion in revenue from the 4 million mobile phones entering its territory each year, whereas the sector has a potential of CFA13 billion. To combat this, the government announced the introduction of a digital duty collection system on mobile phones and related devices on October 15, 2020. The system would require mobile operators to connect to a digital platform developed by French company Arintech to facilitate the collection of customs duties on mobile phones by debiting users’ airtime.
However, due to the problems pointed out by mobile operators (the platform’s limited technical characteristics, private data management issues, the legality of using airtime as a payment means, the projected losses to be incurred by operators if disgruntled users stop using their networks because of the new measure…) as well as users’ protests against the project, the government postponed its reform.