A lack of transparency surrounds awarding of Chad’s first 3G/4G license
On April 8th, the Chadian Minister of Posts and Telecommunications granted mobile operator Airtel a 3G and 4G license. At the signing ceremony, the Minister touted the need for better data services for students and business alike. The move will soon make Chad the 16th nation where Airtel operates 3G service. In fact, Airtel also recently announced it would partner with Chad’s Ministry of Education to give ICT training to 6,000 Chadian youth. The move was touted as a sign the Chadian government values the powers of youth and entrepreneurship.
Better mobile internet speeds are long overdue in N’Djamena. As the Chadian blog Tchadoscopie points out, Chad’s ICT progress is riddled with a worrisome combination of promises with little transparency.
- Usually, the cost of the spectrum licensing is disclosed by either the government (Google “[country] 3G license” to see examples for Kenya, Congo, etc.). The value of the recent Airtel license was not disclosed but certainly brought millions of dollars to the state.
- A national fibre optic backbone that connected to the SAT3 international cable via Cameroon was inaugurated in 2012. Months later, internet speeds were still slow across the country and internet access rates were still in the single digits.
- The privatization of SOTEL, the financially unsound national fixed line incumbent and third largest (read: smallest) mobile operator has been on and off since 2011.
We won’t go so far to agree with Tchadoscopie that a lack of transparency is used “à masquer des détournements massifs de deniers publics” (to conceal a massive embezzlement of public funds) but know really knows?
Source: “Tchad : les opérations sur le marché de la téléphonie mobile et de l’internet cachent-elles une vaste escroquerie ?” Tchadoscopie, 13 Apr 2014.