According to information from Jeune Afrique Business +, the funds from the Public Investment Bank (Bpifrance) will enable the company, which achieves more than 10 million euros in annual turnover – 60% of which is linked to the supply capacity for telecom operators in landlocked countries in the region – to extend its fiber optic network throughout the Greater Cotonou agglomeration (30,000 to 40,000 homes). Currently deployed over 90 km, it will be approximately 500 km at the end of the project. The company’s goal is to acquire at least 10,000 subscribers over the next three to five years in addition to the 500 customers already served through FO.
To be eligible for this very competitive financing (4% over seven years, insurance included), Isocel favored French suppliers for an amount greater than half of the total cost of the project. After deducting export insurance charges, 5.25 million euros will be available to purchase goods and services. The optical fiber will be purchased from Acome, whose factory is in Normandy, and supplied via the exporter Geka Telecom. The installation of the FO will be carried out by Sagemcom, while project monitoring has been entrusted to the Taho firm.
Isocel, which obtained authorization for deployment after the enactment of the new telecommunications code in 2018, is the only private Internet service provider to deploy a fiber-optic network called FTTH (Fiber To The Home) to connect homes, administrations and businesses in Greater Cotonou. The ISP has opted for the construction of an overhead infrastructure attached to the electricity poles that allows it to cut its cost and installation time in half compared to buried optical fiber.
The work, which will begin in January, should be completed in the second half of 2021. The connection to fiber will cost less than 50,000 CFA francs (around 70 euros), and offers will start at 25 euros for a speed of 25 megabits per second.
The Beninese digital infrastructure company (SBIN), which brings together the assets of Benin Telecoms Services (BTS), Benin Telecoms Infrastructure (BTI) and the former operator Libercom, is also deploying an FTTH network and is targeting 50,000 subscribers within three to four years.
For now, Telecom operators MTN and Moov (a subsidiary of Maroc Telecom) do not have the necessary authorizations to participate in the competition.