Niger ordered the closure of the offices of the country's biggest telecoms operator Airtel, a subsidiary of India's Bharti Airtel group, for unpaid taxes of 107 million dollars.
Airtel has been present in Niger since 2001 and holds a 51% market share, according to the national telecoms regulator. “The tax people sealed our headquarters and we were forced to leave the premises,” an Airtel employee said.
Airtel had a deadline to pay 15 million euros in fines. The company was slapped with tax arrears and a fine totaling 94 million euros.
Three other firms have also been hit by tax fines - Orange Niger, a subsidiary of the French firm; the public Niger telecoms and Moov Niger, a subsidiary of Morocco's Maroc Telecoms.
On November 30, the offices of Orange Niger were closed by tax authorities seeking 33 million euros in arrears.