Orange Bissau, the mobile unit set up by France Télécom through its 42.33% owned Senegalese subsidiary Sonatel, launched services in the country last Friday, making it the third operator in the local market. Orange Bissau will initially operate in the capital Bissau and will also provide coverage in the north towards the border with Senegal. The newcomer’s mid-term plan is to extend its reach to the south and east of the country by the year end, providing coverage of most of the 1.5 million population.
Sonatel acquired a mobile phone operator licence for Guinea-Bissau in March 2007. No financial details of the award were disclosed, but Sonatel is known to have beat off rival bids from four other firms, including US-based Global Voice, to secure the concession. At the time, Sonatel director Fernando Lacerda said his company’s proposal was adjudged to be better than bids from Global Voice, Teylium of Mauritius, Lintel Africa (based in the Cayman Islands) and local company 3 Tel. Sonatel’s newly created Orange Bissau unit will compete with incumbents Guiné Telecom (Guiné Tel) and Spacetel Guinea-Bissau (Areeba).