Deregulation in the spotlight

Market liberalisation is the focus of MTC’s inaugural MENA Mobile Forum.

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By  Sarah Gain Published  April 28, 2005

The challenges and necessities of opening up the region’s telecom market are under discussion on day one of the first MENA Mobile Forum in Dubai. According to Dr. Marwan Al Ahmadi, CEO for strategic affairs and IT at Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), the time has come to scrap monopolies and liberalise the Middle East’s telecommunications industry. Forum organisers state that the number of mobile telephone subscribers in the Middle East and North Africa are set to reach 66.5 million by 2006, and 120 million as early as 2008. Embracing greater competition to boost standards and services is seen as key to reaping the greatest rewards from the region’s dramatic telecom expansion. With the exception of Qatar and the UAE, the mobile phone market in the Middle East and Africa is set be completely liberalised by the end of this year and the regional telecom market has undergone a dramatic transformation between 1999-2003, having evolved from one dominated by state monopolies to a predominantly multi-operator environment. The bidding for the second GSM license in Saudi Arabia was undoubtedly one of the most closely followed events in MENA telecoms last year and Al Ahmadi says that MTC are delighted to support local, regional and international trade events that focus on the mobile telecommunications industry. The inaugural MENA Mobile Forum offers the latest industry insights by bringing together some of the largest mobile telecom operators under one roof and Dr. Al Ahmadi’s paper reviewing liberalisation initiatives in the region, regulatory developments, and winning strategies in emerging markets is being well-received by the attendees. MTC Group has expanded dramatically, and its territory now includes Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iraq and in March the group strengthened its position in the marketplace by entering into a binding agreement to acquire Dutch telecom company ‘CelTel’ in a deal worth US$3.36 billion. “There is increasing competition between markets to deliver the most advanced technologies to the end user. Such developments make liberalisation and the end of existing monopolies inevitable, and regional governments need to demonstrate that they are willing to adapt,” explains Dr. Al Ahmadi.

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