VENTURES AFRICA – Reports from Naimey, Niger indicate that the West African country’s parliament voted on Wednesday to nationalise the nation’s telecoms firm, Sonitel.

The development is signify a reversal from the planned privatisation of Sonitel after a 31 billion CFA francs (USD$62 million) accord with Libyan company LAP Green foundered.

In August, the Nigerien government had announced that it would launch a new bidding round for the company and its mobile arm SahelCom, which has 2.5 million subscribers and competes with Bharti Airtel, Atlantique Telecom’s Moov and France Telecom in the Nigerien market.

According to the president of Niger’s national assembly Hama Amadou, by the vote, the Niger Telecommunications Company (Sonitel) has been nationalised and the capital is wholly owned by the state. He also said the stance taken by the government would allow the government to carry-out investments in the company over the next five years.

Following UN sanctions against the government of Muammar Gaddafi, the deal with Libya’s Lap Green was hampered as company was unable to meet the terms of the deal.

Sonitel was previously controlled by a Chinese-Libyan consortium, Dataport, but the Niger government scrapped that deal in 2009, partly because of a lack of investment.

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