One week after stripping underperforming mobile operators Comium and GreenN of their respective GSM licences, the Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications in Cote d’Ivoire (Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications de CI, ARTCI) is said to be reviewing three offers for a new concession. Telecoms minister Bruno Nabagne Kone told Reuters that the government is considering offers from Monaco Telecom, Vietnam’s Viettel Group and the Libyan Post Telecommunications and Information Technology Company (LPTIC) – the parent of stricken GreenN. He noted: ‘We have three offers which will undergo an independent assessment, then a decision will be taken by the government,’ adding that the watchdog may decide to preserve the three operator market – comprising Orange, MTN and Moov – if the offers are not attractive enough.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the ARTCI 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’.
TeleGeography notes that Viettel Group is likely to be considered the front-runner for the licences, given its impact in markets such as Mozambique (as Movitel), Cameroon (Nexttel), Burundi (Lumitel) and Tanzania (Halotel). For its part, Monaco Telecom reportedly bankrolled the licence acquisition by yet-to-launch Malian operator Alpha Telecom Mali back in 2012, and later entered into a strategic partnership with Middle Eastern holding company BinTel, which operates as Azur in three markets, in January 2015.