Orange to Pull Out of Niger Over High Taxes
NIGER – The Nigerien subsidiary of Orange is contemplating shutting down its operations in that country over a tax dispute with the government of Niger. According to African Confidential and other news sources, the government of Niger had hiked its taxes on the GSM company and was demanding more than 50% of the company’s revenue, a situation which Orange Niger termed as “unacceptable.”
Over the years, Orange has been rapidly expanding its presence across Africa and made recent entries into the Liberian and Sierra Leonean markets, which marked a new step for the company which had mostly had a presence in francophone countries to enter an Anglophone market, besides Botswana.
Despite this growth, the Nigerien experience has not been a good one for Orange. The government there increased tax brackets significantly and slapped on a tax bill of US 38 million bill, which the government says represented almost 50% of its turnover. “Orange Niger regrets the brutality of such measures, especially given the exorbitant amounts claimed, which represent more than 50 percent of Orange Niger’s turnover,” the company said in a statement which continued: “Orange Niger intends to exercise all the avenues of recourse, in particular to safeguard the continuity of the company, seriously threatened by these unilateral and disproportionate decisions.” Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries, with a population of 20 million, and as such is a small market for the French telecoms giant which has millions of customers and hundreds of thousands of employees across the globe. The departure of Orange from Niger is expected to have a significant negative overall impact on the overall struggling Nigerien economy.