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Vietnam, Cameroon seek solution to Nexttel crisis

Vietnam, Cameroon seek solution to Nexttel crisis

Vietnam and Cameroon authorities have stepped in to resolve a drawn-out managerial crisis rocking Nexttel, the brand name of Viettel Cameroon SA which is the third privately-owned mobile telecommunications network service provider in Cameroon.

Viettel Cameroon SA is a joint venture between Viettel Global Investment Joint Stock Company (a subsidiary of Vietnam military telecoms company - Viettel) and Bestcam, a local shareholder.

The crisis has its roots in disagreements in the management of the company by the Vietnamese and Cameroonian stakeholders.

Vietnamese shareholders have refuted allegations by their Cameroonian counterparts of flouting Cameroonian business laws, including the OHADA law.

El Hadji Baba Danpullo, Board Chair at Bestcam has accused the general manager of Viettel Cameroon SA "of running Nexttel like his private business".

He said the Vietnamese were recruiting their counterparts at the expense of unemployed Cameroonians.

However the dispute is also based on issues such as signatures for financial transactions, engagement of foreign partners, purchase of telecoms hardware, and transfers of technology, amongst others.

The Nexttel crisis has to date resulted in several litigations in local courts between conflicting parties and has pitted Viettel Global against Bestcam, which owned 70% and 30% shares respectively at the onset of Viettel Cameroon SA in 2014.

On Monday 6 May 2019, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, special envoy of the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Quoc Cuong met with the Prime Minister of Cameroon, Joseph Dion Ngute in Yaounde.

The main focus of their over 80-minute audience was to seek a lasting solution to the Nexttel crisis involving parties of both countries.

At the end of their exchange, it emerged that Cameroon will put in place a commission of enquiry which will look into the crisis and propose suitable and amicable solutions to end it.

No timelines were given.

Industry experts believe if the commercial dispute is not properly handled, it could have a negative impact on foreign investment in Cameroon.

Nexttel Cameroon is the first telecoms operator to deploy a 3G network in the country.

With about 5 million subscribers, the company covers over 75% of the national territory and is well implanted in the country's rural areas.

It is positioned third in the local market, ahead of state-owned Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel), after MTN Cameroon and Orange Cameroun.

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