November 2, 2010 / 2:45 PM / in 9 years

Chad sees telco growth from Libya stake purchase

A public phone bureau in South Africa in a file photo. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

N’DJAMENA (Reuters) - Chad is looking to boost the number of its mobile phone users to two million from 100,000 following the purchase of a majority stake in the local telecoms company by Libyan state-owned firm LAP Green Network.

The purchase of a 60 percent stake in Sotel for $90 million came with a commitment by the Libyan company to invest up to $100 million in the domestic player and its network, Chad’s Trade and Industry Minister Abassallah Youssouf said on Tuesday.

Youssouf said Sotel was also looking to create 15,000 high-speed ADSL lines and modernise its headquarters. No timetable was given for the targets, which reflect explosive growth in the African mobile sector.

Chad had been eyeing a possible privatisation of Sotel since 1997 but the transaction has been repeatedly blocked by what one Sotel official described as “lots of conflicts of interests”.

One of the poorest countries in the world despite being a world top 50 oil producer, Chad is ranked 175th out of 182 states in the U.N. Human Development Index, a composite measure of living standards.

The telecom deal was signed during a visit to Chad by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who is there to attend a conference on Africa’s dwindling water resources.

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