France Telecom rolls out services in Niger

France Telecom's Orange brand kicked off its web, fixed and mobile phone services in Niger, seven months after winning a €48 million licence, a Reuters report said.

Orange Niger said it started its services in the capital Niamey as well as in four other cities. It hopes to get a 30% share of Niger's mobile-phone market in the first year, and 50% by 2015.

The new licence breaks up a monopoly in fixed lines enjoyed by Niger's state phone company Sonitel, which is controlled by a consortium of China's ZTE and Libya's LAAICO, the Reuters report further said.

Niger already has three mobile operators, Celtel Niger, Sonitel subsidiary Sahel-Com and Telecel Niger, with 709,000 subscribers, although customers and legislators alike complain about the low quality of existing mobile services.

Niger is one of the world's poorest countries and ranked bottom of the latest UN Human Development Index. But with African telecoms markets expanding rapidly, several companies are working to extend phone services.

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