By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Ivory Coast
Sweden-based Millicom International Cellular (MIC), one of the European giants of technology and media, wants to invest in the West African nation of Ivory Coast.
This emerged at the meeting held early this week between Millicom Chairman CristinaStenbeck and Ivorian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan in the commercial capital Abidjan.
Stenbeck, who is also a Millicom non-executive director, told Duncan that her company was interested in implanting its footprints on the Ivorian market.
Established in 1990 in Luxemburg, MIC has corporate offices in Europe and the US, and commercial operations in Africa and Latin America in the following sectors: mobile phone, the development of web applications, financial services and internet.
Millicom, whose CEO Hans Holger Albrecht is stepping down at the end of this year, also offers cable TV, data and value added services through partnerships and joint ventures.
“We have discussed with the Prime Minister about the investment opportunities in the web application sector, she said after meeting with Duncan.
Millicom is already present in Ivory Coast in the e-commerce sector through Jumia, Stenbeck added.
MIC is the owner of Tigo, one of Africa’s most popular mobile networks. Tigo is present in six African countries and its key markets include Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Tanzania and Ghana.
Euloge Samba, ICT teacher, told Biztechafrica that Millicom might seek a mobile business licence, which he said will give Tigo the green light to enter the Ivorian market.
Speculation was also rife last year throughout Ivory Coast that MIC might attempt to purchase troubled mobile operator Comium, whose market share and turnover continue to drop.
Figures released by Ivorian telecoms regulator ARTCI showed that Comium subscriber base fell by 43.5% in 2013 from 1.452 million users in 2012 (8% of mobile subscribers) to820 000 (4.23%) at the end of 2013.
The turnover of Comium, a company founded by Lebanon magnate Nizar Dalloul, alsodecreased by 6.7% from about 45 million euros to 41.6 million euros in the same period.
“Whatever direction Millicom wants to take in Ivory Coast, it will surely find a space where it will fit in. Ivory Coast is full of potential and business opportunities are countless,” Samba said.
“Besides, the country badly suffered from a terrible armed conflict that devastated at least 70% of its economy Therefore, it badly needs hordes of foreign investors to rebuild its economy and help provide jobs to its millions of unemployed people.”