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Ivory Coast calls MTN out on poor service

07 May 2013, 11:17Reuters

Lagos - Shares of mobile telecom giant MTN Group [JSE:MTN] fell by over percent after Ivory Coast's government named it as one of five companies that risk losing operating licences due to poor levels of service.

The Ivorian government also plans to ensure that the country's seven operators are at least 15% locally owned.

"Within six months we will take stock of our agreements, our commercial agreements, technical agreements and financial agreements of all the operators with the state regulator of Ivory Coast," Information Technology and Communications Minister Bruno Kone said during a visit to telcoms operator MTN in Abidjan.

"I can tell you already, the head of state is encouraging us, instructing us even, to shut down all operators not up to date," he said.

Kone said the government was disappointed with the quality of service in the sector.

"Not a day passes that there are not complaints about service ... We think that the population everywhere has the right to better service," he said.

MTN International holds 64.67% in the Ivorian subsidiary and the remaining 35.33% belongs to other unspecified shareholders, its website said.

Ivory Coast, French-speaking West Africa's largest economy, has around 18 million mobile phone subscribers out of a total estimated population of 24 million.

Other existing operators are France Telecom's Orange, Libya's Green, Etisalat's Moov and Koz of Lebanon-based Comium.

MTN shares are down 2.4% at R166.85, making it the biggest decliner on the benchmark Top 40 - (Tradeable) [JSE:J200] index.

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