It has been confirmed that Mali has finally put pen to paper on the country’s third mobile operator licence, with Agence Ecofin reporting that Alpha Telecom Mali, a joint venture between Monaco Telecom and local holding company Planor Afrique, signed the licence agreement on 12 February 2013. With Apollinaire Compaore, the businessman behind Planor Afrique, having represented Alpha Telecom at the signing, he revealed that the new entrant aims to have its network operational ‘as soon as possible’, though he stopped short of giving a definitive launch timeframe. It was also confirmed that Alpha Telecom will make a XOF33 billion (USD67.8 million) initial payment for the concession immediately, with the remaining XOF22 billion to be paid within the next three months.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, while the Malian government initially revealed it was planning to award a third wireless licence in June 2008 as part of the country’s structural reform programme, little more was reported for three years, when in June 2011 the minister of new technologies, Modibo Ibrahim Toure, outlined plans to award a concession before the end of the year. Further delays followed, however, before in the latter half of 2012 it was revealed that Alpha Telecom Mali had emerged victorious in a tender that actually took place back at the start of that year, with the winner’s XOF55 billion bid beating out offers from both India’s Bharti Airtel (XOF19.7 billion) and Vietnamese military-backed venture Viettel Corporation (XOF10.9 billion).