The non-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Arab states are beginning to show a higher growth curve than the GCC countries in mobile phone penetration, reversing a trend that was seen for a long time.
In the first two months of 2003, mobile phone subscribers in non-GCC Arab countries grew by 10.03 percent, against 8.55 percent in GCC mobile phone subscription, according to a study done by the Dubai-based Madar Research Group.
According to the study, non-GCC Arab countries fixed line subscribers grew by 2.11 percent, while in the GCC the growth in land lines was as low as 0.68. The non-GCC countries covered in the survey included Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Libya, Palestine, Algeria, Yemen, Sudan and Iraq.
Acotel Group, which recently set up a Wireless Application Service Provider (WASP) facility at Dubai Internet City, through the Info2cell acquisition, to offer advanced mobile messaging technology to enable media companies to transmit information and entertainment to mobile phones, is targeting the non-GCC Arab markets to enable them to bridge the gap between themselves and some of the GCC states by offering its suite of services.
Jordan's mobile phone subscribers grew 40 per cent in the first two months of 2003. The country's 1.24 million mobile phone subscribers represent a penetration rate of 23.26 percent, placing it fifth among Arab countries, after the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.
In Lebanon, there are an estimated 840,000 mobile phone subscribers, with a penetration rate of 19.15 percent. The setting up of a regulator body to reorganize the country's telecommunications sector is expected to provide a big boost to the cellular phone industry.
In Egypt, where fixed lines outnumber mobile phones substantially, mobile phone penetration is expected to receive a boost, with the entry of the country's third mobile phone operator by the fourth quarter of 2003.
The mobile phone penetration in Palestine is estimated at 16.52 percent and is set to grow further. In Syria, the mobile phone penetration stands at a modest 2.47 per cent. Iraq is poised for a major boost in mobile phone penetration once the infrastructure is put in place.
In North Africa, the mobile phone scenario is set for a dramatic transformation, according to Madar figures. Morocco, for example, boasts a mobile phone penetration of 20.48 percent, against a fixed line penetration of just 3.98 percent. Morocco's two mobile phone operators are set to introduce enhanced services, such as GPRS and MMS.
In Algeria, mobile phone subscriptions rose by 595,000 by end-February 2003, though penetration remained low at 1.83 percent. The Tunisian mobile phone industry has received a boost with the entry of Orascom Telecom, with over 100,000 subscribers acquired in the first month of operation alone.
Info2cell is already interconnected with seven regional operators such as MTC-Kuwait, Fastlink-Jordan, MobiNil-Egypt, Batelco-Bahrain, Etisalat-UAE, Qtel-Qatar, Jawwal-Palestine and having over 250,000 registered mobile subscribers. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )