Benin’s state-owned infrastructure firm SBIN (Societe Beninoise d’Infrastructures Numeriques) has entered the country’s mobile market as its third player.
Managed by Senegal’s Sonatel (which in turn is part of the Orange Group), the new provider will be branded Celtiis, and has already claimed that its commercial network covers 80% of Benin’s population at launch. This area includes the major cities of Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou and Porto-Novo, along with the 12 regional capitals. Coverage will be expanded in the future.
Celtiis’ network will provide voice and high speed data services based on GSM and 4G+ (LTE-A) technologies, and will offer mobile number portability from launch – making it easy for customers of rival operators MTN Benin and Moov Africa Benin to switch providers. The operator has begun offering three fibre broadband packages as well as a mobile money service, Celtiis Cash.
Local news outlet Afro-Impact quoted SBIN Managing Director Therese Tounkara as saying at the launch event: “It is extremely rare for a new mobile network to cover 80% of the population”. She also talked up the operator’s value proposition, with low-cost voice and data tariffs as well as a 1% withdrawal fee for Celtiis Cash, undercutting its rivals.
TeleGeography reports that SBIN was founded in 2020 to oversee the transformation of defunct state player Benin Telecoms into a mobile player. The country’s Council of Ministers (CoM) awarded the management contract to Sonatel in March 2021 and finalised the agreement two months later, before approving the issue of a third mobile licence to SBIN on 30th June 2021.