Chinese firm replaces another in Iraq mobile phones project
Baghdad has awarded a $28 million project to introduce a mobile telephone network to China National Technology Import Co. (CNTIC), Iraq's telecommunications firm announced Tuesday October 16.
"CNTIC will replace its Chinese counterpart, Hua Wei Technology, after the latter pulled out of the project, which had been cleared by the UN sanctions committee," the weekly Al-Rafidain quoted Hussein Al-Ma'ini, director of Iraq's telecommunications firm, as saying.
Ma'ini said that under the contract, 25,000 mobile telephone lines would be set up within nine months. He did not say when work would start. Iraq last month invited offers from international firms to set up the mobile telephone network after Hua Wei Technology pulled out of the project.
The project was agreed in 1999 as part of Iraq's "oil-for-food" arrangement with the UN, under which Baghdad is allowed to sell oil to meet the humanitarian needs of its sanctions-stricken population.
Hua Wei Technology, a major manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, was cited when the United States accused China earlier this year of helping Iraq upgrade its air defense system by rebuilding a fiber-optic telecommunications station bombed by US and British warplanes.
Beijing rejected the charge, insisting that it was abiding by the UN sanctions regime imposed on Iraq since its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Iraq's telephone network, which was largely built by French telecom giant Alcatel in the 1980s, suffered heavy damage during the 1991 Gulf War in which a US-led international coalition evicted Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Baghdad said September 4 that Alcatel would implement a $76-million project to rehabilitate its telephone network. (AFP, Bagdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)