MTN would spend 120 billion CFA francs (R2.7bn) upgrading its network in Ivory Coast, MTN Côte d’Ivoire chief executive Wim Vanhelleputte said yesterday. The South African firm is the second-largest operator in Ivory Coast behind France’s Orange. “We want to be first,” Vanhelleputte said. “Today we have a market share of 37 percent. We [want] at least 40 percent, and that will be possible through this kind of investment.” MTN was spending 40bn CFA francs this year to renew and extend its Ivory Coast network and planned similar investments in each of the next two years. The group was seeking to meet growing demand from clients for fast data services. “Today we have 1 000km of fibre optics in Abidjan,” Vanhelleputte said. Ivory Coast has 19 million cellphone subscribers out of a population of 24 million. In addition to Orange and MTN, Libya’s Green, Etisalat’s Moov and Koz, part of Lebanon-based Comium, also operate in the country. Locally owned Cafe Mobile and Abu Dhabi-based Warid Telecom both hold unused operating permits. – Reuters