The Gabonese Minister of the digital economy, post and communication, Pastor Ngoua, and the CEO of Maroc Telecom, Abdeslam Ahizoune, on Friday signed an agreement to award a 3G/4G mobile network operating licence to Gabon Telecom, a subsidiary of the Moroccan group, which operates 2G mobile services via its Libertis division. Local news source Gabonactu.com reports that Libertis will establish a high speed mobile broadband network before the end of this year. Incumbent fixed line operator Gabon Telecom, 51%-controlled by Maroc Telecom (with the Gabonese government holding the remainder), covers more than 90% of Gabonese territory with mobile services, and has grown from 240,000 cellular subscribers in its privatisation year of 2007 to over a million customers at the end of 2013. Maroc Telecom has exceeded a promise to invest at least XAF100 billion (USD210 million) over five years under a privatisation agreement in 2007.
The 3G/4G licence is the second post-2G concession to be awarded in Gabon, following Indian-backed group Airtel’s 3G win in October 2011, TeleGeography notes. As reported by Einnews.com, Gabon Telecom/Libertis obtained its 3G/4G permit as one of 24 strategic agreements signed by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba on Friday in Libreville. The partnership agreements cover various sectors such as agriculture, health, housing, vocational training, finance and banking, new technologies, transport and tourism, aimed at strengthening the framework for cooperation between the two countries.
Maroc Telecom is in the process of being taken over by UAE-based group Etisalat, which already owns various African cellcos, including Libertis’ rival Moov Gabon.