Zain Sudan, a subsidiary of Kuwaiti telecoms group Zain, is in talks with South Sudan to acquire a mobile licence to operate in the newly independent country, Reuters reports, citing the firm’s managing director Elfatih Erwa. Then known as Sudan Mobile Telecom Company (Mobitel), Zain Sudan was awarded a 15-year licence from Khartoum in 1996 and went on to launch services in February the following year. After receiving permission from the South’s Ministry of Telecommunications in 2007, Zain began operating in the region in April 2008 in competition with established operator Gemtel. Erwa said that Zain will continue to operate in the South as usual until a new licence is agreed, adding that the firm will split its Sudan operations after the South obtains an international dialling code. Zain is gearing up to expand 3G services in South Sudan, investing nearly USD110 million in fibre and its core network in 2011, while it has invested USD1.2 billion in the past three years in Sudan as a whole. ‘Our network in the south is larger than the other operators combined,’ Erwa stated, adding: ‘We are now ready to roll out a fibre network to the Red Sea – we already offer 3G services in the South, but internet access is currently via satellite and so capacity is limited. This will be improved dramatically when the fibre network is built.’
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