Libya’s teleco market lags behind

Libya’s telecommunications sector is seriously lagging behind the rest of region’s markets. Not only does it suffer from low penetration rates, it appears as though little is being done to rectify the situation.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  September 9, 2002

Libya’s telecommunications sector is seriously lagging behind the rest of region’s markets, according to Arab Advisors Group. Not only does the country suffer from low penetration rates, it appears as though little is being done in terms of offers and packages to rectify the situation.

“Libya has a relatively low fixed line penetration rate. The number of fixed lines grew at a CAGR of 9.7% between the years 1998 to 2001 and reached 660,000 subscribers yearend 2001, a penetration rate of 12%,” says Arab Advisors Group’s analyst Hala Baqain.

This penetration rate is not being helped by the extensive waiting lists of the country’s monopoly PTT, General Post and Telecom Company (GPTC). For example, the current waiting time for line implementation is 1.2 years and in 2000 GPTC had a waiting list of 80,000 lines.

“This reflects the somewhat low service quality provided by the monopoly operator in Libya, especially when compared to other operators such as Bahrain’s monopoly operator, Batelco, which has no waiting list and where the installation time is only 10 working days,” comments Baqain.

The analyst house suggests that the low penetration and long waiting lists exist for a number of reasons, including the large geographical area of the country, which makes it more difficult and not very cost effective to cover the whole country and meet demand in remote areas.

However, another contributing factor is the lack of independence granted GPTC. Arab Advisors Group notes that, as a government entity, GPTC has no administrative and financial autonomy and there are no clear government policies for the development and liberalisation of the Libyan telecommunications sector.

“Libya has low penetration rates when compared with countries that have similar and even much lower GDP per capita such as Jordan and Lebanon. Libya has no or little obstacles when it comes to the subscriber’s cost barriers since its GDP per capita is comparatively high. This again supports the fact that the monopoly operator is being too idle in increasing its subscriber base, which is mainly spurred by the lack of competition, as well as a lack of drive for more profits on the part of the monopoly operators,” states the report.

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