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Sonatel explains 4G licence no show; claims concessions worth XOF14.5bn not XOF30bn

21 Jan 2016

Senegalese incumbent operator Sonatel has explained its decision not to submit a bid for one of the 4G licences being sold by the government, suggesting that following a review it considers the licence to be overpriced. In a statement released via the country’s information website, the telco says that its wholly owned subsidiary Orange Senegal opted out of the auction stage because, in its opinion, the benchmark review concluded by the Regulation Authority of Post and Telecoms (Autorite de Regulation des Telecoms et des Postes, ARTP) failed ‘to create value for the company and all stakeholders’. Whilst Sonatel has reaffirmed its interest in the rollout of 4G technology in Senegal, it cannot endorse a plan which, it says, does not make economic sense.

The statement read: ‘For example, in Morocco, two of the three operators have paid the equivalent of XOF30 billion (USD49.86 million) as the country is 2.5 times more populous than Senegal and 3.5 times richer. In this respect, the total price of 4G licences in Senegal would be assessed at around XOF14.5 billion. Similarly, in Guinea Bissau, Sonatel Group, through its subsidiary Orange Bissau, was able to acquire 3G and 4G licences for XOF2 billion in December.’

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, a disagreement has engulfed ARTP’s 4G auction process prompting its director, Abdou Karim Sall, to suggest that Orange and the other two incumbents – Tigo and Sudatel’s Expresso Telecom – may have collectively conspired to undermine its plans, damning the apparent ‘collective and coordinated non-participation of the operators,’ and throwing the tender open to ‘new entrants [and] international telecommunications operators’ wishing to develop Senegal’s mobile market.

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