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Orange completes Niger exit

Orange completes Niger exit

Telecoms group Orange has announced the completion of its exit from Niger with the transfer of its stake in Orange Niger to Zamani Com SAS which is wholly owned by Mohamed Rissa of Rimbo Invest and Moctar Thiam of Greenline Communications.

Prior to the sale, Zamani Com SAS held a minority stake in Orange Niger, with the Orange Group holding 95.5% share of the company.

The agreement regarding the sale of Orange's stake in the company was reached in August 2019 and parties agreed that the new owners will be allowed to use the Orange Niger brand during a transition phase.

Orange did not reveal the value of the transaction which it described as confidential, and added that despite its exit from Niger, the Africa and Middle East region remains a strategic priority for the Orange Group.

It attributed its Niger exit to the market environment.

"The market environment in Niger has led Orange to make this decision responsibly, prioritising business continuity for the benefit of the company's customers and protecting the interests of the women and men working at Orange Niger," the Group stated.

In March 2019, ITWeb Africa reported that Orange Group was considering all options for its Niger operations which had been affected by regulatory pressure stemming from socio-economic and political uncertainty.

When it began the process of preventive settlement, the indication was that liquidation was inevitable. Moreover, Orange Niger's poor performance was considered strong enough to make it unattractive and discouraging to potential buyers.

As shown by Orange Group's financial report for the year ended 31 December 2018, Orange Niger recorded depreciation of its fixed assets to €52-million in 2017 and lowered to €43-million in 2018.

Aside from its poor financial performance, it also had issues with the country's government.

Orange Niger's premises was locked on 29 November 2018 on the authority of the General Tax Directorate of Niger due to an outstanding tax bill of 22-billion CFA francs (approximately US$38-million). The premises was reopened after the operator paid an undisclosed amount.

Niger republic has four telecoms companies with a combined subscriber base of less than 8 million, and the country's internet penetration rate stood at 19% at the end of 2018.

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