The Ivorian telecoms watchdog L’Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications/TIC de Cote d’Ivoire (ARTCI) has confirmed that it is set to revoke the mobile licence held by mobile market minnow Aircom (Cafe Mobile). Reuters quotes ARTCI director general Diemeleou Bile as saying: ‘There are seven licences. We aim to cut the number of mobile operators and keep only those who are performing very well. Their case has been referred to the regulatory council for their licence to be rescinded.’ Bile also noted that a number of licences are up for renewal in 2015, which could spell trouble for underperforming operators such as Comium and LAP Green-backed GreenN, both of which occupy a less than 10% share of the market.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in May this year communications minister Bruno Kone publicly urged Comium, GreenN and Cafe Mobile to merge their operations in an effort to stay competitive, and create a stronger fourth player capable of challenging Orange, MTN and Moov. Vietnam’s Viettel Group had previously been linked with a takeover for cash-strapped Comium, although no deal materialised, and the company turned its attention to other African markets.
TeleGeography notes that Cafe Mobile’s future looked bleak in August, when the ARTCI omitted the company from its most recent quarterly statistical overview, which covered the three month period ended 31 March 2014. The cellco, which launched in April 2012 – almost twelve years after receiving its original operating concession – had amassed just 17,865 subscribers by 31 December 2013, equivalent to a meagre 0.1% market share, and its lack of progress prompted widespread speculation over the viability of its ongoing operation.