17 January 2020
Sirius Telecoms Afrique – the would-be Senegalese MVNO that received a licence back in June 2017 – is at loggerheads with its host network provider, Free Senegal (formerly Tigo), and remains unable to launch commercial services. The start-up, which is backed by Mbackiyou Faye, intends to operate under the Promobile brand and utilise the ‘75’ number prefix, but the change of ownership at Free has derailed its ambitions. According to local press reports, by June 2019 Sirius had finalised all the financial, commercial, technical and logistical work required to enable it to launch operations only for its plans to come unstuck. The Authority for Regulation of Telecommunications and Posts (L’Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications et des Postes, ARTP) subsequently issued ruling No. 2019-018 setting the terms of the commercial deal, but new owner Saga Africa Holdings (Free) – a consortium owned by Xavier Niel-led NJJ, Teyliom Group and Sofima (Axian Group) – has refused to comply. Sirius asserts that it has shown every willingness to agree a deal with Free that will enable it to be competitive in the Senegalese mobile market and create jobs for hundreds of people.