Niger’s communications ministry has invited telecoms companies to apply for the West African country’s first 3G cellular licences, Reuters reports, citing a statement on state TV. ‘These licences can go to any operator who desires them,’ the statement said, adding: ‘Operators already set up here and who have global licences also have a chance to acquire one.’ According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the wireless market in Niger is currently home to four operators, none of which have rolled out a third-generation network. In December 2000 telecoms regulator Autorite de Regulation Multisectorielle (ARM) awarded three 15-year GSM licences costing USD5.8 million each to Celtel (now known as Airtel Niger), Telecel (since rebranded Moov Niger, a subsidiary of Etisalat-owned Atlantique Telecom) and SahelCom, a subsidiary of fixed line incumbent Sonitel. ARM awarded a new ‘global licence’ in November 2007 to a consortium led by France Telecom’s Orange, allowing the newcomer to provide fixed line, wireless and internet access services. The consortium offered EUR48 million (USD71.3 million) for the concession.