The telecoms boom continues

The Middle East’s telecommunications market maintains its rapid growth rates and penetration increases across the region.

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By  Sarah Gain Published  May 5, 2005

Wataniya Telecom has experienced a solid first quarter since its international subsidiary signed a management agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Telecommunications Company (PTC) to manage the operations of it’s digital trunked cellular network in March this year. The telecommunications provider’s revenues grew to US$ 250.0 million, an increase of 8% compared to last quarter revenues of US$ 232.0 million, and an increase of 41% compared to the same period in 2004. The provider’s total number of active customers also increased, growing to 3,241,741 in Q105, compared to 2,652,802 in the last quarter, showing an increase of 22%. The Bahrain market is also flourishing and, after almost one year into operations, new incumbent operator MTC-Vodafone Bahrain has announced that it has crossed the 100,000-subscriber mark. The operator estimates its subscriber base to account for around 15% of the market, giving Bahrain a total market size of close to 670,000 subscribers, or a penetration rate of around 95%, a massive increase when compared with the end of 2003 when the subscriber base was a mere 450,000. Algeria’s economic recovery and expansion is also positively affecting its cellular mobile market, where market penetration has increased from 7% to more than 18% in the seven months since Wataniya’s commercial launch in the country and Iraq is experiencing a similar effect as the country rebuilds. There, the GSM mobile penetration has grown to 7% from virtually nothing fifteen months ago. By the end of this year it is anticipated that there will be a total of more than three million GSM customers in Iraq. Maroc Telecom, in Morocco, is experiencing a surge in investment too, as huge demand for its shares has ensured that the initial public offering (IPO) has raised the maximum available in finances for the incumbent operator. This will ensure that the company will have the capability it needs to square up to pending competition in the fixed sector and increased competition in the mobile sector.

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