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Etisalat plans $110m Afghanistan investment

Company hopes to launch 3G in the country in 2011

Etisalat plans $110m Afghanistan investment
Etisalat is planning on investing $110m into Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012.

Etisalat UAE is planning to invest $110m in Afghanistan between 2011 and 2012 and plans to launch 3G telecom services this year, according to Reuters.

The company expects subscribers in Afghanistan to more than double in the next two to three years, which will push its market share to between 30% and 35% according to Etisalat Afghanistan's chief executive Saeed Al Hamli. It currently has three million subscribers with a market share of 24%.

"Our budget is $100m dollars for 2011 to 2012," Al Hamli said. "We expect our subscribers to reach 6 to 6.6 million in two to three years."

Al Hamli said that Etisalat also plans to purchase an existing internet company in the region. The company has already invested $300 million in Afghanistan since 2007.

"For us, it is a strategic deal on the enterprise side," he said.

According to Al Hamli, the company plans to launch 3G services this year as soon as it receives a license.

"We are waiting for the 3G license which we are hopeful to get soon," he said. "We are ready. We have the technology."

Afghanistan's current mobile carriers are Roshan, South Africa's MTN Group Ltd, Etisalat and Afghan Wireless Telecommunications Co.

The use of mobile phones has bloomed in the country since the fall of Taliban rule in 2001 and the sector now has 13.3 million mobile subscribers and is the biggest source of tax revenue for the government, generating $129m in 2010.

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