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Chad to Auction New Mobile License

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Chad's mobile services sector, currently an effective duopoly, is about to get shaken up.

Two operators, Airtel and Tigo -- part of Millicom's now dwindled African operations -- have shared the spoils in The Republic of Chad mobile market: Tigo is narrowly leading Airtel in a market of around 6.5 million users, according to market statistics from Ovum's World Cellular Information Service (WCIS).

Now the telecom regulator is going to hold an auction for a new mobile license, following the launch of the Digital Chad Plan 2017-2022. L'Autorité de Régulation des communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP) is asking qualified bidders to hand in CFA franc 100 million (US$180,000) bid bond. The bidding process will start on September 13.

Chad's mobile penetration stands at around 43% (Ovum), lagging the African average, which the ITU puts at 78%. This may potentially provide a big opportunity, but uncertainty is hanging over the industry especially from the political side. Shortly after restoring the country's Internet connection earlier this year, the government blocked messaging services WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber, as well as the BBC, in the midst of a new politically anxious period.

Through the upcoming auction the authorities aim to attract experienced bidders with strong technical and financial capacities to introduce more competition to the market. But to succeed the industry would need more help from the political and economic regime. A new excise duty of 18% of the value of mobile services revenues imposed in 2017 is not helping the communications services sector, and both Airtel and Millicom have considered pulling out of the Chad market in recent times.

— Wei Shi, Site Editor, Connecting Africa

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