NIGER ISPS HOLD DISCUSSIONS ABOUT FORMING ISP ASSOCIATION
Niger’s ISPs are talking about forming an ISP association. There are four ISPs: IXCom (French-owned), Telestar, Afripa Telecom (owned by Atlantique Telecom) and Sahel.com (owned by incumbent Sonitel). Except for the incumbent, most ISPs deliver their service using wireless. Subscriber numbers are hard to estimate but Sonitel has announced that it has 3,000 subscribers. It has plans to introduce a DSL service but no timetable has yet been fixed for roll-out. It has plans to modernise its network.
IXCom installs VoIP for corporate clients using VPNs but public use of VoIP is illegal. There are around 50 cyber-cafes, mainly in the capital Niamey and hourly access costs vary between FCFA300-1000 an hour.
The sale of incumbent Sonitel to a Sino-Libyan consortium has caused much comment locally as the purchase seems largely to have to the Chinese shareholder ZTE for the supply of equipment. Initial difficulties were caused by complaints about a particular Chinese manager. The slightly mad solution to this problem has been to create a senior management “troika” consisting of a Niger national, a Chinese executive and a Libyan counterpart all at the same level of seniority.