Sonitel union seeks end to duplicate fibre rollouts

Telecoms

The union of Niger’s state-owned national PTO Societe Nigerienne des Telecommunications (Sonitel) and its mobile arm SahelCom has criticised the country’s private operators for rolling out fibre-optic infrastructure in areas where such networks have already been deployed by the incumbent.

Afriquinfos reports that after parliament voted to keep Sonitel in government hands (abandoning a renewed attempt to find a buyer for the telco) in May 2012, Niger granted the company exclusivity on international calls and the rollout of fibre-optic infrastructure for a period of five years, although this was later withdrawn following protests from Orange and Airtel.

The government subsequently awarded Sonitel a contract to deploy a 900km fibre-optic backbone from the capital Niamey to Dosso, which began in August 2012. According to the report, Orange began deploying its own fibre-optic network between the two cities at the same time, prompting Sonitel’s unions to ask the government to ban the duplication of fibre-optic networks in the country, arguing that the telco would lose a valuable source of revenue if this were to continue.