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Central African Republic contracts Global Technologies to revamp SOCATEL

In its bid to restore and reposition Central African Republic-based telecommunications services provider and ISP Société Centrafricaine de Télécommunications (SOCATEL), the country’s government has signed an agreement with French firm, Global Technologies, to restore the company and has committed €20-mllion to finance the project.

The government owns 60% of SOCATEL’s stock while France Câbles et Radio, an affiliate of France Telecom, owns the remaining 40%.

Poor network coverage and quality of service have been cited as some of the reasons for the company’s continued struggle in the market, of which it controls less than 10%. It continues to compete with rivals Orange, Telecel and Moov for subscribers.

This trend has resulted in low revenue earnings and hampered investment in improving the network. Earlier this year, workers at SOCATEL embarked on industrial action to force management to pay outstanding salaries.

Saturnin Cyriaque Sem, SOCATEL’s general manager, said the company is in dire need of the restoration exercise for it to survive.

“We can't fall even lower than that. We are already on the ground. You know we have taken what is called a technological backwardness and in the field of telecommunications, we will have to invest a lot of money to be able to get up to speed. And that's what we've always been missing. But today, with the contribution of Global Technologies, we believe that these means will be made available to us and, of course, Socatel can only recover,” said Sem.

The mandate issued to Global Technologies is to position SOCATEL to be able to cover 40% of the country’s population.

Global Technologies group’s president Jean-Paul Steinitz described the exercise as an attempt to restore “an old microwave network that was built more than forty years ago”.

“We propose, in addition to this old installation, to restore the loop with a few more pylons. The aim is to provide internet and telephone supplies to 40% of the Central African population, mainly in the south and west of the country,” said Steinitz.

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