French telecoms operator Orange has secured Burkina Faso's first 4G licence and has had its 2G and 3G permits renewed as the West African country looks to catch up with continental counterparts on service rollout.
Ben Cheick Haidara, managing director of Orange Burkina, said the operator agreed to pay a total sum of CFA80-billion (US$138-million) – CFA40-billion for the 4G licence, and a further CAF40-billion for the 2G/3G licence.
The permits are valid for 15 years.
Cheick said the payment will be made in three stages. "50% down payment is 40 billion, the second 30% and a final 20%. So, Orange, to access this new license has paid 40 billion to the government."
While there is no confirmed date as to when the operator will roll 4G out, Haidara believes the market will benefit extensively.
"4G plus... these are speeds that can reach up to 150 megabits / second or about 10 times more than the 3G. This will fundamentally change to meet the needs of users."
Tontama Charles Millogo, President of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (ARCEP), said Orange Burkina acquired a neutral license based on a decision by the Council of Ministers held in Ouagadougou on 5 December 2018.
"This license will allow telecom companies to anticipate technological developments and guarantee the people's access to the latest technologies," Millogo said.
He acknowledged that the country is in the process of catching up with counterparts on the continent in terms of 4G.
"We are one of the few countries that did not have this technology and we are looking forward to using it very soon and offering high-billing services to the people."
Burkina Faso's Minister in charge of the Development of the Digital Economy, Hadja Fatoumata Sanon, said 4G will boost digitalisation in the country.
"Several strategic areas can take full advantage of it. It will give a boost to the e-education system. So students will have easy access to educational resources," she said.