(Adds telecoms minister’s comments, details)
ABIDJAN, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Maroc Telecom has paid the first half of a 100 billion CFA franc ($165.1 million) telecommunications licence fee in Ivory Coast, after taking a majority stake in local operator Moov last year, an Ivorian minister said on Tuesday.
Morocco’s largest telecom operator acquired six African assets, including Moov, from Abu Dhabi’s Etisalat.
Maroc Telecom was renewing the licence after the Moov purchase, Ivorian Telecommunications Minister Bruno Kone said.
Maroc Telecom’s Chairman and CEO Abdeslam Ahizoune met with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara on Monday, the Ivory Coast’s presidency said earlier, adding that the licence would open the way for Maroc Telecom to invest in 3G and 4G technology as well as Ivory Coast’s expanding fibre-optic network.
Three operators, led by France’s Orange and followed by South Africa’s MTN and Etisalat’s Moov account for 96 percent of Ivory Coast’s nearly 22 million mobile subscriptions.
A senior communications ministry official said last month that Ivory Coast planned to cap the number of operating licences at four as they come up for renewal in the first quarter of this year. ($1 = 605.6900 CFA francs) (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Additional reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi in Rabat; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by David Goodman and Alexander Smith)