Orascom Telecom (OT), a leading telecommunication company based in Egypt, has won the bid for Algeria’s second mobile license. OT disclosed that it had bid $737 million for the 15-year license, with half of the amount due by November 2003.
OT will install a cellular phone grid throughout the country, expected to become operational by March 2002, according to a company statement. The company plans to spend approximately $200 million on the Algerian network by 2003
The tender stipulates that the licensee is required to cover nearly all population centers of more than 2,000 people, airports and major roads, and key economic and tourism zones, within the first four years.
OT was reportedly competing for the license against France's Orange, Spain's Telefonica and Portugal Telecom, however only Orange actually participated in the bid, submitting an offer of $422 million.
The license was awarded to Orascom Telecom Algeria, a company with 51 percent of the stock owned by OT. The other partner in this joint venture has not been disclosed as of yet, according to Prime Securities.
The OT company is 60 percent owned by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, while the remaining shares are traded on the Cairo and London stock markets. OT is currently the largest cellular phone provider in the Middle East and Africa, in terms of licenses and operations.
With a population over 31.5 million, Algerian fixed-line subscriber base has reached 1,761,000 in 2000, up from 1,600,000 in 1999 and 1,477,000 in 1998, according to ITU (International Telecommunication Union) figures. In 2000 there were only 5.6 telephones per 100 inhabitants, with the fixed lines penetration rate climbing from 5.2 percent in 1999 and 4.9 percent 1998.
The state-owned post and telecommunications monopoly currently runs the country's only GSM network, which has an estimated 100,000 subscribers. In 1999, 72,000 mobile Phones were in service in the country, up from only 18,000 in 1998. Some 500,000 cellular phone applications are still pending. Mobile Penetration rate was at 0.3 percent in 2000, steadily growing from 0.2 percent in 1999 and 0.1 percent in 1998.
Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Maghlaoui has recently said that Algeria targets connectivity of 20 fixed telephone lines per 100 inhabitants, a developed Internet network and a mobile phone network serving 10 million subscribers, over the next nine years. ― (MENA Report)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )