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Four firms bid for Rwandan licence

Zain and Millicom International among companies short listed for Rwanda’s third mobile licence

Four companies have submitted bids for the third Rwandan mobile operator’s licence, the Rwandan Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) announced last week.

Thirteen companies expressed an interest in the licence, but only Zain, Larrycom for Investment, Millicom International, and Telecel Globe submitted initial bids for the 15-year fixed and mobile licence.

Rwanda currently has two mobile operators, MTN Rwandacel and Rwandatel. The mobile penetration level in the country is estimated to be about 8% of the population of 10.1 million people. MTN, in its June 2008 financial results, claimed to have 834,000 subscribers.

Internet penetration is also low, with 150,000 users, representing 1.5% of the population, according to figures from the International Telecommunication Union.

Kuwaiti-based operator Zain already has a presence in 15 countries in Africa, while Telecel, a subsidiary of Egyptian operator Orascom Telecom, has operations in Algeria, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

Millicom International claims to have 20 million customers in 16 emerging markets around the world, including seven in Africa. Larrycom for Investment has a 5% stake in Sudanese operator Sudatel.

The RURA will evaluate the technical and financial aspects of the bids this month, before the licence is awarded in December.