Mobitel says new licence may jeopardise investment

16 Jul 2007

Sudanese cellco Mobitel has urged the government not to issue a further mobile phone licence, saying a new competitor might force it to reconsider a USD690 million expansion plan. CEO Khaled Muhtadi told press he had received reports that the country’s telecoms regulator the National Telecommunications Corporation (NTC) was preparing to issue another nationwide licence in the next twelve months. ‘If we are going to get competition from yet another mobile operator then that limits our appetite in terms of spreading [as] aggressively as we are,’ he said, adding, ‘We have shared our concerns with them. We have informed them [their plan] could backfire.’ Sudan’s mobile telecoms market has grown greatly since a 2005 north-south peace deal ended Africa’s longest civil war. Liberalisation of the sector coincided with a sharp increase in revenue from the country’s oil industry following the north-south agreement. Three cellcos currently have licences covering the whole of Sudan; Mobitel, wholly-owned by Kuwait’s MTC, MTN Sudan, part of South Africa’s MTN Group and Sudani, an offshoot of the fixed line incumbent Sudatel. Two small private companies, Gemtel and NOW, also have licences, though these are limited to Sudan’s semi-autonomous south.

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