ROUGH TIMES CAME EARLY

Regulatory Bumps Slow Down Yango’s Trip In Cameroon

By  |  February 9, 2023

The operations of Yango, a ride-hailing service with Russian ties, have been suspended in Cameroon. According to a Reuters update, the transport ministry of the French-speaking West African country alleges that the company has failed to comply with its regulations. 

Yango is a subsidiary of Moscow-headquartered Yandex, a multinational technology giant that provides an array of internet-based services. Unarguably, it is the largest tech firm in the country and has the second-largest search engine, often referred to as the “Google of Russia”. 

Yango’s e-hailing offering made inroads into the Cameroonian market in November 2021, with operations kicking off in Yaoundé (capital) and Douala, two of the country’s largest cities. The service, which also operates in multiple countries in Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East, came to Africa in 2018, first penetrating Ghana and Ivory Coast.

In September 2022, the Cameroon Ministry of Transportation issued a warning to the actor in response to a series of complaints about unfair competition from the country’s transport unions. Per the ministry’s statement at the time, Yango needed to obtain a license, open a Cameroonian office, register with the tax department, and set up a local bank account

In the new communique, Transport Minister Ngalle Bibehe Jean Ernest Massena said that the “activities of public transport operated via the Yango digital platform are suspended until they are brought up to standard”. According to him, the business is yet to declare its fares and periodically publish its terms of use to customers. 

The Ministry of Transport has also ordered the company to work with only roadworthy vehicles and partner drivers who are all-round fit to transport people. 

Yango’s suspension comes amid a 15 percent increase in fuel prices, a rise which came after the International Monetary Fund pressured the country’s government to cut its fuel subsidy. As a result, the national union of taxi drivers threatened to strike if Yango’s non-complying operations continued unchecked, also putting the transport watchdog under pressure. 

The Cameroonian ride-hailing scene is quite busy, with players such as Gozem, Easy Ride, ElmoRide, and Mboa Tax competing for market share. In August 2022, Yango struck a partnership with Bee, a mobility-centric startup, to deploy a fleet of motorbikes in the country’s capital and generally organize the niche economy in Francophone Africa. 

In February 2022 when Gozem made entry into the market via Douala, the Togolese-born service hinted that it would soon add motorcycles and tricycles to its ride-hailing offerings, to give Cameroonians more options to move around. 

Featured Image: Team Tweaks

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