Isocel expands fibre footprint in Benin


Telecoms operator Isocel has launched the first phase of its fibre optic network in Cotonou, Benin and offers customers zero cost on migration to fibre.

Spanning 70km, the first phase forms part of Isocel's 450km-long Next Generation Access Network, dubbed iNGAN, that would see the deployment of fibre optic across Greater Cotonou. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2020.

The project was first announced in June 2018 and is targeted at business and high-end residential customers. It is being rolled out at a cost of €7.5-million, sourced through a joint investment between Banque Publique d'Investissement (which is providing of €6.5-million) and Isocel (providing €1-million).

Robert Aouad, chief executive officer of Isocel Benin, said, "We think we can contribute modestly to the government's vision of very high speed (internet) for the population."

According to Aouad the project was introduced to meet a growing need for increased network capacity owing to saturation of its radio fibres.

"Every two-to-three years we have the problem of saturation. We decided to go to another system that could be more efficient. This is how we invested in fiber optics," he said.

Benin's minister of the Digital Economy and Communication, Aurélie Adam Soulé Zoumarou, said the service will improve internet quality in Benin and would also be the conduit for the delivery of innovative products.

Zoumarou added that the country needs more investment to improve internet coverage from its current 40%.

"For broadband, we need 361 billion FCFA and 261 billion must come from the private sector. As government, we will play our part through all the reforms. We need fixed internet to grow for residential access and business use. I hope this service takes local customs and realities into account."

Marlyse Bada, commercial and marketing director of Isocel SA said the objective with the first phase is to connect 25,000 subscribers.

Aouad added that the second phase will expand coverage in the south. "In all we will build 350-400kms over the next two years. We will have teams on the ground going door-to-door so that we can clearly identify potential customers. We will not go to areas where there is not enough income to support the roll-out."