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Airtel secures Niger Republic's first 4G license

Airtel secures Niger Republic's first 4G license

The government of Niger Republic has awarded the country's first 4G license to Airtel Niger (Celtel Niger SA) for an undisclosed amount.

According to the adopted draft decree, the operator can now offer 4G services to subscribers in the republic.

"This license is for the establishment and operation of fourth generation mobile telecommunications networks and services open to the public in the Republic of Niger," the Council of Ministers announced.

Prior to awarding the license, Niger's Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Digital Economy, together with the Ministry of Finance and the Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications and the Post (ARTP) held talks with the country's four telecoms operators.

"At the end of this procedure, Celtel Niger SA was declared the preferred bidder for the 4G license," Airtel said in a statement.

The government and Airtel Niger believe 4G service delivery will revitalise the sector and improve digital services in the country.

According to recent data made available by ARTP, the country's mobile penetration stands at 38.63% while internet is 19.06%.

Between 2015 and 2016, the telecoms sector only recorded a growth rate of 1.3% which the government described as too slow if the country is going to achieve the targeted 70% penetration rate by 2020.

Airtel is the market leader with 52% market share and about 4 million subscribers, ahead of competitors Atlantique Telecom Niger SA, Orange Niger SA and Niger Telecom SA.

Industry experts believe Airtel got the nod because of the strength of its position in the market which suggested it could afford the license fee more than its competitors.

Celtel Niger SA has been operating under the Airtel brand since it was acquired in 2010 by Bharti Airtel. The company has been Niger's leading operator since the liberalisation of the telecoms sector in 2001.

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