Moov Togo, a majority-owned subsidiary of Maroc Telecom, has finally been given the official go-ahead from the government to launch its 3G mobile service. To date, the company’s 3G ambitions have been scuppered by regulatory red-tape. The cellco was ostensibly promised a 3G licence in July 2012, after previous negotiations in 2011 broke down amid disagreement on the cost of the concession, with the subject referred to the government for consideration. The impasse was only broken on 13 January 2016 when, during a cabinet meeting, the government adopted a decree allowing the Minister for the Digital Economy, Cina Lawson, to authorise Moov to operate a 3G network. Agence Ecofin notes that the cellco’s permit allows it to offer the advanced mobile service until 2021.
The cellco’s mandate requires it to undertake ‘significant investments in infrastructure, [including] the extension of access cover, the densification of areas covered and [to actively] participate in the creation of jobs and particularly those for Togolese citizens in management positions’. The government says the move to license Moov Togo is designed to rebalance a market in which, to date, only Togo Cellulaire (Togocel), a subsidiary of state-owned fixed line operator Togo Telecom, has been able to offer 3G services. That being said, the powers that be have been somewhat slow in driving change.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in July 2014 the government announced plans to begin the process of auctioning off a third mobile licence via an international tender. The ministry confirmed that the tender for 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services would hopefully be concluded by October that year but, with no news forthcoming, in November 2015 the League of Consumers of Togo (LCT) wrote to Cina Lawson’s office demanding that the government redress the woeful state of mobile services by licensing a third operator. In an open letter, the LCT accused the ministry of turning a blind eye to what it termed the ‘indifference, carelessness, callousness and especially the ease with which mobile operators Togocel and Moov deal with consumer complaints, despite the alarming cries [of end users]’, and pointed out that more than a year had passed since Togo launched the tender for the award of the third licence to set up a new firm offering 2G, 3G and 4G services.