Mountaga Tall, Mali’s Minister of the Digital Economy and Communication, has reportedly received authorisation from the government to begin the process of awarding the country’s fourth mobile network operator (MNO) licence. According to Agence Ecofin, the state approved te award of a new concession on 24 March, during a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modibo Keita. It is understood that the government is keen to enhance competition in the mobile sector, especially as the recipient of the country’s third MNO concession – Alpha Telecom Mali – has yet to launch a commercial service.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in September 2012 Alpha Telecom Mali, a joint venture between Monaco Telecom and local holding company Planor Afrique, submitted a bid of XOF55 billion (around USD106 million at that date) to secure its concession, comfortably surpassing offers from India’s Bharti Airtel (XOF19.7 billion) and Vietnamese military-backed venture Viettel Corporation (XOF10.9 billion). Since then, however, it has made little progress in bringing a service to market, with financial matters – including delays in paying for its concession – having proved to be one of a number of stumbling blocks on its road to market.