The payment of Customs clearance fees for mobile phones and tablets in Cameroon will henceforth be done via an electronic platform. The measure went into effect on 1 October 2020, according to a joint statement signed by the country’s Finance and Telecommunications Ministers.

The novelty, according to the authorities, is in line with Section 7 of Cameroon’s 2019 finance law which levies a tax on the importation of mobile phones and tablets into the country.

Electronic platform for Customs clearance  in Cameroon

Importers of the electronic gadgets will now be required to effect payment for their Customs clearance procedures using an electronic platform that has been put in place for that purpose by the government. Modalities for the implementation of the new measure had already been outlined in an earlier joint statement on 13 March 2020.

“Apart from being a means of ensuring a more secure Customs revenue collection process, this innovative method of customs clearance payment is also aimed at enhancing the security of mobile communications in Cameroon”, the Ministers said in their statement released on 29 September.

They explained that all mobile telephones and mobile devices currently in use in the country, and which have been connected at least once to the network of any local mobile telephone operator before 1 October 2020, will be considered as having been duly cleared  - and will thus not be affected by the new disposition. “The mobile telephones of travelers who are on a temporary sojourn in Cameroon and who are using their telephones and other mobile devices on roaming mode are also excluded from the process,” they added.

Regulation requirements

As part of the measure, mobile telephone importers and retailers will have the obligation to indicate to potential buyers whether or not a mobile telephone they are displaying for sale has been cleared following the stipulated procedure.

In the event where a user buys a telephone or any mobile device that has not been cleared, there is the possibility for such payment to be done using an automated billing option thanks to the dedicated electronic payment platform that has been established for that purpose, the authorities explained.

The government says it counts on not only the collaboration of telephone and mobile device importers but also of mobile network operators, government agencies, and other stakeholders for the successful implementation of the new dispensation.

This move is part of Cameroon’s strategy to render certain official transactions simpler and more user-friendly.

Cameroon has a booming market for mobile phones and other mobile devices. According to statistics, the country has at least 23 million mobile subscriptions as of January 2020, representing about 90% of the total population.

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