Mauritania’s third telecoms operator Chinguitel, a subsidiary of Sudanese telco Sudatel which also has units in Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, and South Sudan under the Expresso brand, will soon be on the market, local press reports suggest. Last month, CommsUpdate reported that Sudatel was considering selling off its African assets, with an unnamed source saying: ‘Sudatel is starting to think seriously about its assets, and is assessing whether it can continue to operate alongside the big players in Africa. It’s unclear if an exit would be on a case-by-case basis, or if [it] will look to sell all [of them] in one hit. Either way, it’s likely you’ll see some action later in 2013’.
Since then the rumour mill has been intensifying, suggesting that Chinguitel will indeed be sold as Sudatel looks to redress a steady fall in its profits, as a result of an unchecked slide in average revenue per users (ARPU) in Africa. As such, the decision to offload businesses such as Chinguitel is a strategic move by the Sudatel to allow it to strengthen its presence in the horn of Africa. Further, the government of Sudan, which owns a 21% stake in Sudatel, is thought to be struggling to finance the operator’s international expansion drive, having lost a large chunk of its oil revenues following the recent independence of South Sudan. Chinguitel launched commercial operations in 2007 was the first operator to build a WiMAX network in the country, offering ‘full coverage’ of the entire business district in Nouakchott –offering connectivity solutions for SME and corporate customers.