Arab states seek independent pan-Arab communications network
Arab states are seeking to set up a communication network linking all Arab countries directly to develop a market with "great potential," Algeria's minister of post and telecommunication said Thursday.
"We are working, together with the Arab League, to set up a communication network that would establish direct links between all Arab states, without passing via other countries," Mohamad Mighlawi told AFP.
"There is already a fiber optic link between Algeria and Alexandria in Egypt and other similar links, like between Morocco and Tunisia. The project involves setting up new links to complete the network," he said, without giving further details.
"The Arab world has a great potential in the field of telecommunication and information technology," he said. "The fast development that we have witnessed in the last few years such as in Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon and Egypt proves it," he said.
He said Algeria, which has a global system for mobile telecommunications (GSM) mobile telephone network with 120,000 lines, was due to seek bids in March or April to set up more lines "because we have secured demands for 500,000."
He said Algeria is being advised by BNP-Paribas." In 2004, we estimate that there will be a mobile telephone for each one of the six million families in Algeria," which has a population of 31 million people, he said.
Mighlawi was speaking on the sidelines of the Third Arab International Telecom and Information Technology conference organized by the Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group publishing company and which opened here Thursday.
A Lebanese official at the conference said that Lebanon, which has two private firms operating a GSM mobile telephone network with 730,000 lines, was expected to set up later this year a state company for mobile phones that will be run for a certain number of years by private investors.
Mohamad Amin, coordinator for Arab Unit at the International Telecommunications Union, also told AFP that "the Arab world has a great potential, but we mostly need to see more political openness and more encouragement for a larger private sector involvement." — (AFP, Beirut)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)