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Libyan cellular networks braced for open market

Speaking at the inaugural meeting of a national economic development body, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi claimed the plans would get underway with immediate effect although it is still unclear as to the exact nature of proceedings.

Libyan government officials have announced plans to privatise the country’s two mobile phone ventures as the country increasingly abandons its protectionist stance in favour of the open market.

The move will see state-owned network operators Libyana and Al-Madar “go private” according to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son and heir apparent.

Speaking at the inaugural meeting of a national economic development body, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi claimed the plans would get underway with immediate effect although it is still unclear as to the exact nature of proceedings. Libyana and Al-Madar are both controlled by state-owned General Posts and Telecommunications Company (GPTC).

GPTC is headed up by Mohammed Gaddafi, Colonel Muammar’s eldest son and details are not yet certain as to how much of each company will be up for sale, or if the government will accept bids openly or via invitation only.

Media reports suggest that both network operators had a combined user-base of 2.3 million in a country of 6 million at the end of 3Q06, representing a mobile penetration rate of approximately 38%.

The two state monopolies have acted a duopoly since the entry of Libyana in September 2004.

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