May 3, 2012 / 6:10 AM / 8 years ago

Niger nationalises state telecoms firm

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger’s parliament voted on Wednesday to nationalise the west African nation’s telecoms firm Sonitel, backing away from a planned privatisation after a previous 31 billion CFA francs accord with Libyan company LAP Green foundered.

Niger said in August that it would launch a new bidding round for the company and its mobile arm SahelCom, which has 2.5 million subscribers and competes with Bharti Airtel, Atlantique Telecom’s Moov and France Telecom in the Nigerian market.

“By this vote, the Niger Telecommunications Company (Sonitel) has been nationalised and the capital is wholly owned by the state,” said Hama Amadou, president of Niger’s national assembly after the vote.

Amadou said the nationalisation would allow the government to carry-out investments in the company over the next five years.

Sonitel was previously controlled by a Chinese-Libyan consortium, Dataport, but the Niger government scrapped that deal in 2009, partly because of a lack of investment.

The deal with Libya’s Lap Green was scuppered after the firm was unable to meet the terms of the deal following UN sanctions against the government of Muammar Gaddafi.

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