Senegal's government has announced that it is to terminate the mobile license of the Tigo mobile phone network - potentially cutting off some 1.8 million customers - at the end of this month. Tigo, which is the trading name of Sentel GSM is a wholy owned subsidiary of Luxembourg based Millicom International Cellular.
Millicom says that the mobile network represents less than 5% of Millicom's world-wide revenues and less than 3% of its EBITDA for the nine months ended September 2008.
Sentel's twenty year license was granted in 1998 by a prior administration, before the enactment in 2002 of Senegal's Telecommunications Act. Although the current Senegalese government has, since 2002, acknowledged the validity of Sentel's license, it has also requested that Sentel renegotiate the terms of the license.
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Sentel has indicated its willingness to negotiate only certain enhancements to the license, including allowing for the provision of 3G voice and data services and the extension of the duration of the license. It should be noted that Sonatel, which trades as Orange has launched a trial HSDPA network in the capital city, Dakar.
Millicom said that it remains interested in negotiating an acceptable resolution and are hopeful that an amicable solution can be reached. At the same time, the company is reviewing legal options and may take legal action against the government of the Republic of Senegal if the situation is not resolved satisfactorily.
There are currently only three licensed mobile networks in the country, and figures from the Mobile World database show that Orange is the market leader with just over 3 million customers, while the 3rd network, Sudatel Senegal has yet to launch its service.
Source: Cellular News.