Agence Ecofin reports that Alpha Telecom Mali, a joint venture between Monaco Telecom and local holding company Planor Afrique, has paid the final balance of XOF7.6 billion (USD15.6 million) it owed to the Malian government for the third mobile telephony licence it won in the second half of 2012. The deadline date was 13 November and if the newcomer had failed to make good, it faced losing the concession altogether. Alpha Telecom Mali is now looking to forge ahead with plans to launch commercial services in 2014.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in September this year Alpha Telecom Mali was facing having its licence rescinded amid claims of non-payment for the concession and allegations of irregularities in the award process. Despite the new licensee having made an initial payment of XOF33 billion for its concession in February 2013, a second instalment of XOF22 billion which was due by mid-May had yet to be paid. 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 then minister of new technologies, Modibo Ibrahim Toure, outlined plans to award a concession before the end of the year. Further delays followed, however, before it was finally revealed in the latter half of 2012 that Alpha Telecom Mali had emerged victorious in a tender that actually took place 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). Joint venture investor Monaco Telecom is backed by UK-based Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC).