Airtel Niger has reportedly invested $5.7 million in deploying optical fibre from a major Nigerien city to the country’s border with Nigeria.
The deployment of optical fibre from the south-eastern city of Zinder, some 861 km east of the capital Niamey, to the small town of Maimoujia, on the border with Nigeria, began last week.
According to Agence Ecofin there are three parts to the project: the construction of a 12 km urban fibre optic loop in Zinder, Niger’s second largest city, the construction of a data centre in the city, and the construction of a 123 km optical fibre link between Zinder and Maimoujia.
The idea, it seems, is that Zinder will play an important role in sub-regional interconnection for both local and international traffic, in particular international traffic from bordering countries.
Airtel is the leading player in Niger’s telecom market, with an estimated market share of more than 40 percent. Zamani Telecom (formerly Orange) and Moov Africa follow, with Niger Telecom a distant fourth.
This news may be encouraging to the country’s governing bodies. In May the President of the Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, bemoaned the lack of development in the telecommunications sector, notably the low penetration rate of basic services (around 43 percent) and even lower penetration rate of mobile internet (less than 20 percent), some way behind many of the country’s neighbours. More worryingly, given the popularity of mobile money in much of Africa, he suggested that the penetration of active electronic money accounts is only three percent.
He called for all players in Niger’s telecommunications sector to accelerate its development for the benefit of the country.