The government of Togo has launched a tender to award the country’s third mobile operator licence, as it looks to drive competition in the country. According to a statement published by the Council of Ministers last Friday, the new licence will allow the winner to offer both 3G and 4G mobile services as the state forges ahead with a strategic focus designed to create ‘a new competitive dynamic strategy’ that will raise inward investment in mobile telecoms infrastructure, in turn allowing ‘the telecommunications sector to realise its full potential and promote the growth of the digital economy.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database the wireless market in Togo is currently a duopoly of Togo Cellulaire (Togocel), the mobile arm of fixed line incumbent Togo Telecom, and Atlantique Telecom (Moov), which is controlled by UAE-based telecoms operator Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat). The cellcos each received GSM operating licences in the late-1990s. Togecel launched commercially in 1997 followed by Moov two years later, and they have since amassed more than three million users between them.
It is not the first time that the government has tried to award a third licence. In November 2008 France Telecom-Orange (FT, now known as Orange Group) announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of the West African state, opening up the way for exclusive negotiations with regards to ‘a new global operator licence’ under the Orange brand. However, the trail went cold though and the status quo remains unchanged, despite a May 2011 update in which the regulator, Autorite de Reglementation des Secteurs de Postes et Telecommunications (ART&P), confirmed its intentions to further liberalise the sector by licensing a new mobile operator through ‘a transparent process’. Firms such as Mauritius-based Planor Afrique (owner of Telecel Faso), Libyan telecoms holding company LAP Green Network and France’s Orange Group are all names to have been linked with a potential third licence in Togo.