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Ivory Coast to Award 3G Mobile-Phone Licenses, Register Users

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Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast will award four third-generation mobile-phone licenses as soon as next month and require Internet cafes to register their users in a bid to cut down on online crime, said Information Technology Minister Bruno Kone.

“We want to get it done as soon as possible” Kone said in an interview in Abidjan, the commercial capital, today. “We even considered moving directly towards 4G, but that would been technically too demanding on the operators.”

The licenses will cost 6 billion CFA francs ($12 million) each, Kone said. On Feb. 1, the government told telecommunications operators and owners of public Internet cafes to register current and new users as part of a nationwide campaign to combat cybercrime, he said. Mobile-phone operators have a year to register users.   

“We need to clean up our bad reputation as a regional capital of cybercrime, a reputation that we have had for several years now,” Kone said.

The West African nation has about 16 million mobile phone subscriptions and five active operators, including Orange Cote d’Ivoire, a unit of France Telecom SA, MTN Group Ltd. of South Africa and Moov, a unit of Emirates Telecommunications Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pauline Bax in Abidjan at pbax@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emily Bowers at ebowers1@bloomberg.net

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