NIGER – Airtel Niger, a telecommunication company, has constructed a fibre link from the city of Zinder to the Nigerian border at Maimoujia, and has added a data centre in Zinder.
The company, owned by Indian group Bharti Airtel, says it spent US$5.7 million on the infrastructure, which runs for 123km between Zinder and Maimoujia and includes an extra 12km loop in Zinder, the second biggest city in Niger.
The governor of Zinder, Issa Moussa, said at the inauguration ceremony that the new network would give the country wide access to the new information and communication technologies that constitute today key factors of growth, socio-economic development, diversification of the economy and land use planning.
He said the link will allow the Zinder region to give an impetus to development in education and schools, to strengthen the participation of rural communities and vulnerable social strata in the national economic life and to reduce poverty by creating qualified employment opportunities in disadvantaged areas.
Abdel Kader Abdoulaye Babakodo, marketing director of Airtel Niger, will provide “very high speed internet for the whole population”.
He added: “With this project, Zinder becomes a strategic pole of the sub-regional interconnection plan which will ultimately be a point of passage for traffic from certain neighbouring countries to the world.”
With the fiber optic loop and the data center of Zinder, the second largest city in Niger by population, in addition to the high-speed section to Maimoujia, Airtel Niger is acquiring assets that will enable it to record new subscribers in the country and further grow its financial income.
Airtel has a 40% market share in Niger, according to the country’s regulator, with Zamani Telecom, which bought the Niger business from Orange in 2019, having 28% and Moov Africa a 27% market share.
In May 2021, 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.