After a number of unaccounted delays in late 2016 and early 2017, the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART) has finally announced that mobile number portability will soon be put to task in Cameroon with September 1, 2017 as the day the new mobile technology becomes operational.

The announcement was made during a ceremony to launch the communication campaign under the orders of Cameroon’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications that took place on August 21 after it was initiated in 2010

There’s nothing more exciting than switching between networks while maintaining the same number in Cameroon.Tweet this!

Mobile number portability (MNP) is a telecoms service that permits a mobile user to maintain his/her phone number  when switching from one network operator to another. It is a service that will offer more flexibility to mobile subscribers which if implemented, will give users more leverage over their choice of mobile operators.

mobile number portability
How the number porting process works

Cameroon’s mobile portability project recorded its anticipated milestone earlier this year in January when MTN, Orange and Nexttel committed under the orders of  Economic Interest Grouping for the management of mobile portability in Cameroon (Groupement d’intérêt économique pour la gestion de la portabilité mobile au Cameroun; GIE-PMC) to invest FCFA 1.5 billion in setting up a centralized database to be installed and managed by Chinese equipment manufacturer, Huawei.

The state of Mobile Number Portability in Africa

7 African countries currently implement mobile number portability. Cameroon has taken its cue from countries like Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and recently, Tanzania which had adopted the mobile number portability service before now. From September 1, 2017, that number will rise to 8 when Cameroon eventually joins the porting world.

In Kenya, it is cheaper to buy a new SIM card than to port from one network to another and the preference by many subscribers for separate SIM cards, hence the popularity of dual SIM mobile phones.

South Africa’s Independent Communications Authority said mobile number porting was highest during a period of 13 months from October 2014 to October 2015 when 1.1 million numbers were ported.

According to a 2013 research carried out by GSM Intelligence, only a quarter of developing markets had introduced Mobile Number Portability (MNP) which suggest that about 60% of regulators in the developing world have either decided against introducing MNP, or have made no progress to date.

mobile number portability
                                               MNP status across developing economies
                                                      Source: GSMA Intelligence

Should Mobile Telcos worry about MNP?

Mobile portability technology is expected to boost competition in the mobile communication industry in Cameroon, improve network services for mobile operators in the country and compel telecoms companies to reduce service charges if they must retain their customers. Certainly, customers are having fun with this new system. So, Yes. They should definitely take guard against this new technology that will radically transform the telecoms sector in Cameroon.

Losing customers to a competitor is no telco’s hobby. But from the look of things, MTN, Orange and Nexttel will either have to work together or against each other as it has always been. The introduction of the mobile number porting technology seems to threaten MTN Cameroon’s (leading telco company in Cameroon) market position and this can only ever be maintained by building a mutually beneficial relationship with customers. The customer is now king and has the power to make or mar your business.

What’s coming next after mobile number portability?

Bank Account Number Portability is the next big tech. You could soon be able to switch to another bank without changing your account number.

Mobile number portability will undoubtedly expand Cameroon’s mobile telecommunications horizons. But it will also bring higher marketing expenses for mobile operators. Until the implementation date for the service is reached, mobile operators still have a few days to make things right with their customers if they haven’t already done so.

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