London — There is a tendency by African Governments to see mobile operators as a convenient cash cow that can be milked through taxes. The latest example is in Niger where two mobile operators were asked respectively for 50% and 70% of their current turnover. Russell Southwood looks at what happened and the likely buyers of the former Orange subsidiary.
As markets go, Niger is a comparatively small one with four main players: Orange (who entered in 2008), Airtel, Moov (Maroc Telecom) and Niger Telecom (a merger of former state incumbent Sonitel and Sahelcom). At the end of 2017, there were 8.78 million subscribers. Orange paid XOF13 billion for its licence.
In November 2018, the Nigerienne General Tax Directorate issued tax demands to Orange and Airtel. The Orange tax bill was for XOF22 billion (US$38.4 million) representing 50% of its current turnover. Airtel’s tax bill
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