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Etisalat wins 3G, 4G license in Benin

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United Arab Emirates (UAE) headquartered telecoms firm Etisalat has won a license to operate 3G and 4G services in the West African nation of Benin.

Etisalat yesterday announced that it has won a ‘Universal Service License’ in Benin, a country that has a population of 9.1 million people according to the World Bank.

A press statement from Etisalat has said the license gives Etisalat Benin “the right to provide third and fourth generation (3G and 4G) and any other mobile telecommunications technology that becomes available for the next 20 years.”

Etisalat, though, already has a presence in Benin as ‘Moov’.

Moov, owned by Etisalat subsidiary Atlantique Telecom, has been providing services such as internet and BlackBerry solutions in Benin. According to the Moov website, the company has also been selling feature and smartphone devices in that nation.

Etisalat operates as a mobile provider in African markets such as Egypt and Nigeria as well. In Nigeria, Etisalat says it has 15 million subscribers and in Egypt the UAE headquartered operator has 22 million subscribers.

Other African markets where Etisalat operates includes Zanzibar, Sudan, Gabon and Togo.

Etisalat is also in talks with France’s Vivendi to buy its controlling stake in Morocco's biggest mobile operator Maroc Telecom.
Benin, then, may present a much smaller and even more saturated market for Etisalat.

Benin’s government-owned mobile unit Libercom, for instance, is competing with the likes of South Africa’s MTN, Glo Mobile, and Bell Benin which is operating under the name BBCom, according to BuddeComm research.

“The high level of competition has taken market penetration to around 80% in early 2012,” says BuddeComm research.

But Benin may be an attractive market for Etisalat owing to the country’s uptick in economic growth.

“The global economic crisis led to a downturn in Benin’s economy, but GDP growth has recovered and is expected to return to levels between 4 and 5% from 2013 onwards,” says BuddeComm research.

In April, the Etisalat group announced a net profit of $495 million for the first quarter of 2013.

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