The Gabonese government has approved long-rumoured plans to merge Gabon Telecom and Moov Gabon – the two local subsidiaries of Maroc Telecom and its controlling shareholder Etisalat – Jeune Afrique reports, paving the way for the creation of a new, enlarged operator.
In November 2013 French media group Vivendi signed a definitive agreement to sell its controlling 53% stake in Gabon Telecom’s parent Maroc Telecom to UAE-based Etisalat, which already owned Gabon Telecom’s cellular market rival Moov Gabon. In May 2014 Etisalat completed the Maroc Telecom takeover, before agreeing to sell its Atlantique Telecom subsidiaries (including Moov Gabon) to Maroc Telecom as part of an operational overhaul. TeleGeography notes that, with 35.7% (Gabon Telecom) and 18.6% (Moov) of the market, respectively, the combined entity will leapfrog market leader Airtel Gabon (37.3%) in the subscriber stakes.
In addition, Jeune Afrique reports that the Gabonese authorities are keen to fill the void by licensing a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), with communications minister Pastor Ngoua Neme reportedly endorsing the plans. As such, France’s Orange Group has already been approached ‘discreetly’ with a view to gauging its interest in a virtual operator concession.
With a wireless population penetration rate of more than 190%, Gabon is unlikely to see much interest in a tender for the vacant licence, potentially making the introduction of an MVNO a more viable option.