Court rules on fibre row

9 Apr 2013

Agence Ecofin writes that a Kaloum court yesterday ordered Sodiacom to cease operating on the infrastructure of Societe des Telecoms de Guinee (Sotelgui). Sodiacom, a company specialising in the installation of optical fibre networks and backed by former Sotelgui official Justin Traore, has been accused of cutting the incumbent’s cabling, illegally accessing Sotelgui’s ducts and installing its own fibre. Sotelgui, Sodiacom and the ministry of telecommunications have been at loggerheads in recent months over the matter, although the court order suggests that the issue is close to resolution.

Ishmael Kaba, head of networks at Sotelgui claims that since 8 February 2013, Sodiacom has abused its agreement with the incumbent to illegally access structures and install fibre in Sotelgui’s ducts and destroying the incumbent’s infrastructure to harvest and re-use the cable. Further, Kaba claimed that Sodiacom had used Sotelgui’s fibre to serve customers directly, without the authorisation of Sotelgui or the permission of the regulator. However, Kaba claimed that the telecoms minister’s interference prevented the incumbent from taking action against Sodiacom.

Telecoms minister Oye Guilavogui had last month ordered the arrest of a number of Sotelgui employees for disconnecting Sodiacom, accusing the workers responsible of committing ‘economic sabotage’ over non-payment of salaries. Guilavogui then instructed authorities to prevent other employees from accessing Sotelgui premises, a move which Sotelgui’s employees understood to be an attempt to damage Sotelgui in favour of Sodiacom. Guilavogui appeared to change sides yesterday, acknowledging that whilst ‘there were shortcomings in the administrative procedures for the preparation of contracts for rental of fibre by Sotelgui,’ the minister admitted that Sodiacom was not authorised to carry out the work or offer services.

Guinea, Societe des Telecoms de Guinee (Sotelgui)