Orange suspends new Ivory Coast network cable installation after vandalism

ABIDJAN, June 15 (Reuters) - French telecoms group Orange has suspended the installation of new ditigal network cables in Ivory Coast because of vandalism, a top official said on Friday.

Orange Cote d’Ivoire’s services were disrupted for weeks after a fire broke out at a technical center in the commercial capital Abidjan on April 30. A key cable connecting Ivory Coast to the rest of the world was cut, suggesting sabotage, the company said at the time.

A statement by Orange sent to Reuters on Friday said that more cables had been cut and equipment stolen from 11 network rooms in Abidjan’s Bietry district between May 31 and June 9.

It said the company had lodged a formal complaint with the public prosecutor.

“We need to find a solution to the sabotage of our installations before we continue,” said Stephane Varret, deputy director general of Orange Cote d’Ivoire, adding that the suspension would not impact customers.

Varret said Orange Cote d’Ivoire loses an average of about 6 billion CFA francs ($10.30 million) per year due to vandalism and damage. The French company is Ivory Coast’s mobile telecommunications industry leader with more than 13 million subscribers. It also holds a majority stake in the country’s national telephone company. Its competitors in the wireless sector include South Africa’s MTN and Maroc Telecom-owned Moov. ($1 = 582.4400 CFA francs) (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Sofia Christensen and Louise Heavens)