Mali is said to be examining the possibility of launching a tender for a fourth mobile concession later this year, according to Agence Ecofin, which cites local news source Mali Actu. At present there is a moratorium on offering another mobile licence, with the state having agreed this as part of the concession handed to Alpha Telecom back in 2012. However, with this block on licensing due to be lifted later this year, and with Alpha still yet to launch a commercial service, it has been claimed that the government may look to offer another concession to a company.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, while January 2014 saw Alpha Telecom begin the deployment of its infrastructure, legal and technical issues have continued to dog it. Indeed, amid claims that the company continued to struggle with the realities of rolling out its network, in November 2014 it was revealed that a prosecutor for the Ministre de l’Economie et des Finances had begun a preliminary investigation into the award of the licence, following criticism of the process by the country’s Office of the Auditor General at the start of the year, the ongoing delays in the introduction of a commercial service, and litigation linked to the payment of the fees for the concession.
Last month, however, a meeting between Alpha Telecom and its partners saw the would-be operator make positive noises regarding a launch, with almost all of the company’s mobile towers said to have been deployed, while highlighting the fact that it had made full payment for its concession to the state. As such, the company, which is expected to offer its services under the Atel-SA banner, said it was optimistic it would begin offering access to customers in the near future.