In Brief :Orange to merge fixed, mobile assets in Cote d’Ivoire 

The government of Cote d’Ivoire and the management team of Orange Group have reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding(MoU) relating to the long-planned merger of fixed line operator CI-Telecom and mobile unit Orange Cote d’Ivoire.The former is 48.5%-owned by the government and 51.0%-owned by Orange Group,with the remaining minor stake held by current and former employees,while the cellco is 85%-owned by Orange Group,with the remainder held by SIFCOM.The agreement was signed on 28 April Discussions with the state are expected to be concluded by the end of the year,with the merger expected to be formalised by June 2017.The government will ultimately hold a 31% stake in the new entity,compared to Orange’s 69% shareholding.

***Algeria’s Minister of Post and Information and Communication Technology has revealed the impending restructuring of state-owned domestic telecoms operator Algerie Telecom (AT) and the opening up of its capital to strategic investors. ‘The restructuring of Algerie Telecom is inevitable in view of current developments worldwide’, the minister was cited as saying, adding that ‘after 15 years of existence, it has become imperative for Algeria Telecom executives to change the organisational structure of the company and review its business strategy and its working methods so as to be in tune with global technological and technical developments.’ In regards to AT’s listing on the local stock exchange, an initial public offering (IPO) of the telco is a possibility, as it ‘will boost its efficiency.’

***Togo’s Minister of Posts & Digital Economy, has said that access to mobile broadband internet services should no longer be ‘a luxury product’, available to only a few, and called on the country’s two network operators – 2015 Togo Cellulaire (Togocel) and Moov Togo – to rapidly extend 3G service coverage and provide the highest data speeds possible to consumers. The domestic mobile market expanded by a net 1.28 million users in 2015, and with smartphone take-up on the increase, demand for broadband is set to ‘explode’ in the next two to three years – if prices are reduced to make handsets affordable to the average man in the street. Togo is home to a total of 4,657,321 mobile users at end-2015, a cellular penetration rate of 66.78%.

***Kuwait based Zain has announced that it is paying USD95 million to buy a majority stake in a Sudan based landline network operator. Zain is buying the 92.3 percent stake in Canar from UAE based Etisalat, and the move is expected to boost Zain's existing mobile network operations in Sudan. Sudan accounted for 19 percent of Zain's revenue and 26 percent of its subscribers in 2015.

***Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) has announced the signing of a share purchase agreement with Kuwait-based Zain Group for the sale of its 92.3% stake in Sudanese fixed line operator Canar Telecommunication Company (Canar). Etisalat will receive a total cash consideration of AED349.6 million (USD95.2 million) upon completion of the transaction, implying a price per share of AED17.50. The move will consolidate Zain Group’s presence in Sudan, where it already owns the mobile market leader, which accounted for 11.87 million wireless subscribers at the end of 2015. The deal remains subject to certain conditions, including the approval of Sudanese regulator the National Telecommunications Corporation (NTC) and the country’s competition authorities.