The government of Sierra Leone has reportedly threatened to take over the management of Comium Sierra Leone, the country’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, if the company fails to address its debt and network problems, CFO World reports. According to the article, at a meeting with Comium’s management and staff, officials from the National Telecommunication Commission (NATCOM), urged the operator to ‘quickly come into agreement with debtors as well as workers, after which the government will allow it to continue with unhindered operation’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in September 2013 local media reports alleged that the company was facing financial difficulties, as government officials in possession of a court injunction stormed the company’s headquarters with the intent to shut down the business after it failed to meet its debt obligations to several banks. Subsequently, in November 2013 the High Court of Sierra Leone sealed off one of the offices of the network operator, after ruling that Comium was liable for a payment of SLL5.5 billion (USD1.257 million). For its part, NATCOM revealed to the media that they had intervened on several occasions to try and resolve the issue amicably, but that Comium’s management ‘has not been living up to the expectations of the agreement for the recovery of the loan’. Further, the struggling company reportedly suffered another setback when rivals Africell and Airtel started blocking calls originating on its network.