Togo Cellulaire (Togocel), the mobile arm of fixed line incumbent Togo Telecom, plans to launch the tiny African nation’s first 4G mobile network this year and roll out mobile banking, according to an unnamed source claiming knowledge of the situation. Details of the launch are scant concerning the terms of the award, coverage requirements and anticipated launch date, while many in the Republic have reacted with some bemusement, arguing that the cellco’s current 3G network is inadequate at best, and efforts should be made to improve that before even considering 4G.
Togocel switched on the country’s first 3G mobile broadband service in 2010, but today the network barely covers the capital Lome, and mobile internet remains a luxury for the average Togolese. Unlike many other markets in the region which offer a free 3G connection, Togo’s citizens are charged an additional XOF2,500 (USD4,35) for a connection kit. Given the high costs and relatively poor services, the government is keen to introduce fresh competition to improve cellular penetration (currently 54%, compared to the regional average of 75%) and has decided to licence a third operator to help the domestic market ‘achieve its full potential’. Along with Togocel, the only other player is Atlantique Telecom (Moov), which is controlled by UAE-based telecoms operator Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat). With both cellcos having received GSM operating licences in the late-1990s, Togocel launched commercially in 1997 followed by Moov two years later, and they have since amassed more than three million users between them, with the former enjoying a roughly 65%-70% market share.