Libya plans to privatise telecoms networks

The Libyan government has reportedly announced plans to privatise the country's two mobile phone networks.

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By  Administrator Published  March 1, 2007

The Libyan government has reportedly announced plans to privatise the country's two mobile phone networks. Speaking during the inauguration of a national council for economic development, Muammar al-Gaddafi's second eldest son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, said that the two companies would "go private."

It was not immediately clear how the transaction would be carried out, or if outside investors would be invited to bid for stakes in the companies.

The Libyan General Post and Telecommunication Company currently owns both mobile network operators, but they compete against each other for customers by providing different pricing schemes and coverage areas. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi runs the company.

Libya had approximately 2.35 million subscribers at the end of 3Q06. Mobile telephony services were first launched in Libya in 1996 through an operator called Al-Madar. A state-owned monopoly, Al-Madar was characterised by high prices and developed slowly both in terms of network coverage and subscriber growth. By June 2004 its network covered only the capital Tripoli and the coast from the Tunisian border to the town of Sirte and had reached 150,000 subscribers in a population of more than 6 million inhabitants.

This situation changed drastically when a second operator - also government owned - was introduced into the market in September 2004. Libyana went on to register around 250,000 GSM subscribers by June 2005, more than the 200,000 users Al-Madar's network had at that time. The Libyan government then set a target of 1.2 million subscribers across both networks by the end of 2005.

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