Sudatel Telecom Group has earmarked investment of USD267 million over the next five years to transform Sudan’s telecoms sector and grow its subscriber base, the firm’s chief executive told news agency Reuters. ‘There will be a complete transformation from mobile to ICT and we are investing in strong fibre-optic networks and broadband to achieve our goals,’ Tarig Zainelabdein said on the sidelines of a Sudan-United Arab Emirates (UAE) investment forum, adding that around 30% of the investment will come from equity and the rest from bank loans, mainly Arab and Chinese banks. Sudatel swung to a USD50 million profit in 2014 from losses of USD17 million the previous year and USD46 million in 2012, and the firm expects 5%-10% profit growth this year.
International operations, which include operations in Mauritania, Senegal, Ghana and Guinea Conakry, currently contribute roughly 30% of Sudatel’s revenues, but the company is aiming to increase that proportion to 50% by 2020, with Zainelabdein revealing that the firm was looking at entering new markets in Africa where mobile penetration is low. Sudatel is also aiming to increase its domestic and international subscriber base by 35% over the next five years from the current twelve million to over 16 million. Zainelabdein predicted that half the forecast subscriber growth would come from Sudan and the rest from other African markets. Commenting on its Ghanaian business Expresso (Kasapa Telecom), Sudatel said it plans to exit that market fully by the end of this year, having sold 18% of shares to an unnamed buyer. ‘There were losses and the competition is high there and by end-2015, we will transfer the remaining shares to a buyer,’ Zainelabdein said, without providing further details.