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Suriname grants telecom licences to Digicel and Intelsur

Thursday, August 17, 2006

by Ivan Cairo
Caribbean Net News Suriname Correspondent
Email:
ivan@caribbeannetnews.com

PARAMARIBO, Suriname: Caribbean telecommunication giant Digicel and Intelsur were granted licences Monday to offer telecommunication services in Suriname, government officials have confirmed.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday vice-president Ramdien Sardjoe said that with the entry of two more providers it is expected that telecommunication services will improve while among other benefits for consumers tariffs could drop.

Although Sardjoe expects, though competition with the incumbent state-owned Telesur, currently the sole telecommunication operator in Suriname, liberalization of the industry could have a positive impact for the state-company, he argued.

“This is great news. This is what we were waiting for, for a long time,” said Digicel Suriname manager Mitchell Tjin A Djie in response to the written confirmation from the Ministry of Transport, Communication and Tourism (TCT) he received on Monday.

In an interview from Miami, Tjin A Djie, further stated that Digicel is prepared to roll out a GSM-network within a few months. He further noted that the company will deliver a quality service and contribute not only to improving the telecommunication industry in Suriname but also to the country’s economy, by creating jobs and other spin-off effects.

Digicel Caribbean is both partner and shareholder in Digicel Suriname, said Tjin A Djie.

According to the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Tourism, nine companies submitted applications for a licence and eventually four bidders were invited to present their proposals.

After the presentation of proposals and business plans Communications Minister Alice Amafo put forward Digicel Suriname and Intelsur to President Ronald Venetiaan for approval.

The ministry warned that the actual liberalization will take effect as soon as the new Telecommunication Act becomes effective. Although the Telecommunication Act was passed in Parliament in 2004, the president is still to proclaim the act.

The two licences were granted after a lengthy selection process that continued for over three years. Since 2001 over 40 companies had submitted an application and eventually only nine were persistent until the final selection was made.

As the liberalization takes effect the Suriname Telecommunication Authority will review whether more providers could be allowed. According to vice-president Sardjoe for the moment three telecom providers are sufficient in Suriname.

For its operations in Suriname, Digicel Caribbean will team up with Digicel Suriname, a subsidiary of the Hollandia Concern. This company operates an ultra-modern bakery and is also involved in the rice industry, travel business and the importation of consumer products.

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