President of the Republic of Benin, Boni Yayi, in a meeting with the Transitional Post and Telecoms Regulatory Authority (ATRPT), has ordered the privatisation of struggling state-owned cellco Libercom. Instructions were given to the ATRPT for the process to be undertaken ‘in the next two weeks’, Agence Ecofin reports, in a move aimed at stemming the flow of government treasury money being used to keep the GSM operator afloat. TeleGeography notes that negotiations have previously been held with France Telecom-Orange regarding the privatisation of Libercom and its parent company, fixed line incumbent Benin Telecoms, and the French giant remains the most likely purchaser. Libercom has long suffered from financial problems, with allegations of mismanagement or misappropriation of funds, whilst it also faces criticism of its service quality, weakness of network coverage and high call costs. On the plus side, TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database shows that Libercom recently entered Benin’s GPRS/EDGE-based mobile internet market, and connected 47,000 mobile internet users by the end of June 2012, in the process overtaking a more-established mobile internet provider, Nigerian-backed Glo. The new services helped Libercom grow its overall subscriber base to 277,000 at mid-2012, up from 225,000 twelve months earlier, although this gave it a market share of just 3.5%, easily the smallest of Benin’s five mobile operators.