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Sudan dials up competitition

Sudan’s fixed line and cellular markets are still monopoly markets operated by Sudatel and its cellular subsidiary Mobitel. The cellular sector is expecting a second mobile operator by the end of 2004, while the fixed line sector is slated for liberalisation in 2005.

Sudan’s fixed line and cellular markets are still monopoly markets operated by Sudatel and its cellular subsidiary Mobitel. The cellular sector is expecting a second mobile operator by the end of 2004, while the fixed line sector is slated for liberalisation in 2005.

The new Arab Advisors ‘Sudan Communications Projections Report’ says despite the healthy growth rates, the fixed line and cellular penetration rates are still considered low by regional standards at 2.8% and 1.6%, respectively.

Due to competition, the Arab Advisors Group projects Sudan’s fixed lines to grow at an annual rate of 25% between 2003 and 2008 to exceed a penetration rate of 7.7% by 2008, up from 2.8% in 2003. During the same period, the Arab Advisors Group projects a compounded annual growth rate of 50% in the cellular market to exceed a penetration rate of 10% by 2008, up from 1.6% in 2003.

Sudatel’s, the country’s largest operator reported that line subscribers increased 39% to reach 936,756 subscribers up from 671,842 subscribers in 2002.

In 2001, Sudan formed the National Telecommunication Corporation as the regulatory body for telecommunication services, under the Telecom Act 2001. The NTC regulates the establishment, operation and maintenance of telecom services in the country besides promote the interest of telecom service providers and beneficiaries.

“This represents one of Sudan’s preliminary, yet major, steps towards liberalising its telecommunications market and attracting foreign direct investment into this important sector,” says Sami Sunna, Arab Advisors Group’s research manager.

“The current unstable conditions in the country and its inhospitable terrain are important factors [affecting mobile penetration]. It is also noteworthy that the relatively low GDP per capita in Sudan is one of the factors contributing to the low fixed line and cellular penetration rates in the country. Sudan has a very low GDP per capita, by regional standards, which is estimated at US$566 per capita,” adds Sunna.

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