The number of mobile phones in use in the Arab world has increased dramatically since the beginning of the year, reaching 23.7 million subscribers by end November, compared to 23.35 million fixed lines over the same period, according to a survey released by the Madar Research Group.
A 2002 estimated mobile phone growth rate of 52 percent will push mobile phone subscribers across the 24 million mark by year end, and widen the margin between mobile phones and fixed lines by close to one million subscriptions.
Mobile phone subscriptions now outnumber fixed lines in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, according to the survey.
"The high growth in the number of mobile phone subscribers is due to network development and expansion projects by mobile carriers in many countries including Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia, in addition to new services such as prepaid mobile cards, the sales of which in Saudi Arabia alone reached 1.6 million since their launch in April 2002," said President and Research Director of Madar Research, Abdul Kader Kamli.
"Mobile phone penetration in the Arab world, however, is still low. The 23.7 million mobile phone subscribers constitute only about eight percent of the Arab population, compared with a world average of 17 percent. But the Arab world will catch up with the rest of the world in the coming three years as Arab countries liberalize their telecommunication markets and bring in more players and competitors," said Kamli.
There is much disparity in mobile phone penetration between Arab countries – or regions. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, for instance, displays penetration rates much higher than world average but almost half the North American average, standing at 26 percent.
Excluding the GCC, the Arab world has just over five percent mobile penetration, according to the survey which details the performance of each of the 18 Arab countries covered by the report in terms of Internet, mobile phone and fixed telephone line penetrations.
The survey also introduces the Madar Research Telecom Use Ranking (TUR) Index, which produces an overall ranking for Arab countries in telecommunications use. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )