Liberia’s de facto fixed line telecoms monopoly Liberia Telecommunications Co (LIBTELCO) has been granted a five-year tax break by the country’s lower house, the House of Representatives. On 2 September 2021 the chamber voted overwhelmingly in favour of passing the ‘Act to award Tax Incentives to the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LIBTELCO) as a Government Owned Entity’. Only three members of the House abstained, arguing that the Act should have been sent to committee first, in order to carry out an in-depth cost analysis before allowing its passage. The Observer newspaper reports that the Act will now ‘be engrossed and transmitted to the Liberian Senate for occurrence upon resumption or work hopefully in October’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in October 2020 national regulator the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) issued a mobile network services licence to state-owned LIBTELCO, allowing it to offer GSM-based services. The Monrovia-based company has been focusing on the deployment of its fibre-optic network to homes, businesses and educational institutions, but will now be able to join incumbent operators Lonestar Cell-MTN and Orange Liberia in the domestic market, offering a range of voice and mobile data services.
In August 2020 the House of Representatives voted to amend the Telecommunications Act of 2007 to expand the functions of LIBTELCO to become a GSM operator. The report noted that the amendment effectively expanded the telco’s functions and role as a ‘revenue operator, to contribute towards the national budget’. The committee had concluded: ‘The amendment of those provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 2007 as cited herein will enable the Government-owned Corporation ‘LIBTELCO’ to provide world-class telecommunications products and services at cheaper, affordable prices for all Liberians that will enable growth of various sectors, such as education, healthcare, banking, energy and serving the masses, at large, for a sustainable economic growth of our society.’