Senegal’s Sonatel has won a contract from Benin’s government to run the state-owned SBIN (Societe Beninoise d’Infrastructures Numeriques, or Beninese Digital Infrastructure Company) with the ultimate goal of launching a third network in the market.
Agence Ecofin notes that the government announced a year ago that SBIN would be the recipient of the country’s third mobile licence. At present, the market is a duopoly between private firms MTN and Moov.
In a statement, Benin’s government said: “As delegated manager, the group [Sonatel] will have the mandate, in addition to the management of SBIN over a period of five years to make it a major GSM operator, to implement the necessary infrastructures for the rapid supply of mobile electronic communications services.”
As reported by TeleGeography, Benin’s government began the process of tendering a management contract for SBIN in October 2019. In addition to Sonatel, applications included international firms such as Axione, Csquared, Inwi, Sparkle, Tata Communications and Telecel.
SBIN is set to assume control over a substantial holding of state-owned infrastructure, including the shuttered mobile operator Libercom, the assets of Benin Telecoms Infrastructures, and additional assets of Benin Telecoms Services. The latter includes a national fibre broadband backbone, a voice network, state data centre, e-government network and metropolitan fibre.
In addition, SBIN has been ordered to deploy a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network. To this end, the special purpose vehicle Benin ACE GIE is expected to transfer access management of its international submarine fibre network to SBIN by the end of the year.
Sonatel offers broadband, fixed and mobile services across Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali and Sierra Leone. The company is part of the Orange Group and its operations use this branding.