Niger – controversy over fiber optic networks
Controversy surrounds Niger’s fiber optic cable network established to boost the country’s overall network coverage and speed. State-owned Societe Nigerienne des Telecommunications (Sonitel) and its subsidiary operator SahelCom have lashed out at private companies for establishing independent fiber optic networks across the country.
The state-owned operator said that the cable network was already in place and having multiple cables could threaten the country’s overall telecommunications infrastructure.
According to an Afriquinfos report, Niger’s Parliament had previously voted to maintain Sonitel as a state-owned company in May this year and had granted it exclusive rights to establish the cable network as well as its monopoly for international calling.
However, Orange and Airtel have condemned the move and have set up their own networks.
As a result the government has awarded Sonitel a contract for a 900 kilometer fiber optic network that was to serve as the backbone of the country’s infrastructure.
Sonitel has reported that it has called on the government to ban the duplicate networks in an effort to ensure revenue from their operations. The government has yet to make an official statement on the matter.
Sonitel has also canceled an agreement with the Libyan government in the hopes of boosting its local presence.
The company said that it believes the Niger market needs to become more stable before they can assist other regional nations with developing their telecom infrastructure.