Benin’s state-owned digital infrastructure company Societe Beninoise d’Infrastructures Numeriques (SBIN) – operating the former assets of Benin Telecoms Infrastructures (BTI) – will enter the mobile telecommunications segment, the government announced on 18 March 2020 following a Council of Ministers meeting. Agence Ecofin reports that the decision was taken ‘in light of the evolution of the restructuring of the digital telecommunications sector which required a redefinition of the missions of SBIN’ and ‘to offer a better quality of mobile services to support the digital transformation efforts undertaken by the government’. The Beninese mobile market is currently a duopoly of private sector operators MTN and Moov.
The Council of Ministers has tasked the Ministry of Digital & Digitalisation (le Ministere du Numerique et de la Digitalisation [MND], created on 5 September 2019) and the finance ministry with ensuring ‘a successful transformation of SBIN into a global telecommunications operator and to proceed with recruitment of [a private sector management company]’. Previous reports said that applicants including Axione, Tata Communications, Csquared, Telecel, Sonatel and Inwi have been pre-selected by Benin to manage its telecoms infrastructure – including a national broadband backbone and access rights to submarine cables – in a process earmarked for completion around the end of March, although likely to take longer.