Mali set for recovery following intervention on islamist insurgency

Mali has market penetration rates below African averages in all market sectors except mobile where it is now racing towards the 100% mark. The division of the country during 2012 with islamists linked to Al-Qaeda controlling the north cast some uncertainty over future developments, but the recent intervention by French and African troops has resolved the situation at least in the short term. The economy contracted in 2012, but GDP growth is expected to recover and remain stable at between 5% and 6% from 2014 onwards.

Alpha Telecom Mali, a consortium of Monaco Telecom and Planor Afrique won Mali’s third mobile licence in January 2012 with a bid of EUR84 million, beating India’s Bharti Airtel and Viettel from Vietnam. The government had reportedly hoped for a minimum of EUR50 million. South Africa’s MTN and Portugal Telecom had shown interest in the licence but did not submit final bids

The licence was to be formally awarded in November 2012 following payment of 60% of the licence fee, with the remaining 40% due in January 2013. However, Planor’s local partner reportedly defaulted on its share of the licence fee, and Monaco Telecom’s involvement in the joint venture was also shrouded in doubt. If these issues cannot be resolved, the licence may have to be retendered

Despite the high mobile penetration in the country, enormous potential exists in the development of mobile broadband services.

Another opportunity to enter the market will become available later this year with the planned sale of a 53% stake in Maroc Telecom, which owns 51% in Sotelma, Mali’s incumbent telco which also operates one the country’s two mobile networks.

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