Following months of speculation, the Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications in Cote d’Ivoire (Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications de CI, ARTCI) has revoked the GSM licences held by local firms Comium Cote d’Ivoire, GreenN Cote d’Ivoire and the now-defunct Niamoutie Telecom, which briefly traded as Cafe Mobile. The decision was imposed on 29 March, and the watchdog has given the operational players 30 days to deactivate their respective networks. Local media reports have also noted that Warid Telecom – which was awarded a licence in July 2006 but never actually launched – has also had its concession stripped, although its imminent expiration renders the issue a moot point.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the watchdog seeks to reconfigure the mobile sector as a four-player market, via the introduction of a new operator ‘capable of taking an active part in the development of the Ivorian telecoms market’, alongside main players Orange, MTN and Moov. As such, in September 2015 the watchdog invited Expressions of Interest (EoI) for a new telecoms concession, which it said would ‘revitalise the market’. The ARTCI has promised an ‘optimal redistribution of spectrum resources’, while the successful bidder will be expected to deploy networks capable of supporting mobile and fixed telephony, data transmission and internet access. The regulator noted that the pre-selection of operators will be primarily ‘based on reputation’.