The government of Chad has announced its intention to privatise an 80% stake in national fixed line incumbent Societe des Telecommunications du Tchad (SOTEL) as part of efforts to restructure the telecoms market in the landlocked country. SOTEL is the country’s smallest cellco by subscribers, but holds a monopoly on fixed line telephony and currently operates Chad’s only international fibre-optic link, which connects to the SAT3 submarine cable via Cameroon. The government has requested expressions of interest from potential investors, with the conditions that applicants have financing capacity in excess of EUR200 million (USD273 million), and have experience managing telecommunications assets. Consortia are permitted to submit offers but must include a majority investor which satisfies the conditions for financing and experience in the telecoms sector. Prospective buyers have until 21 February to register their interest. Civitas Partners Ltd has been appointed exclusive financial advisor for the sale. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database the government had previously agreed to sell a 60% stake in the incumbent to Libya’s LAP Green Networks for USD90 million in 2010, although the deal was derailed by the civil war in that country the following year.
The deal is part of long-term plans to overhaul the struggling telecoms sector, the weakness of which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have identified as a major barrier to the country’s economic development. Earlier this week, Chad’s parliament passed a new law on the regulation of electronic communications which will replace outdated sector watchdog Office Tchadien de Regulation des Telecommunications (OTRT) with a better-equipped, modern authority.