Tunisia recently re-issued an invitation to tender for the country’s second Global Mobile System (GSM) license. Egypt’s Cellular conglomerate Orascom Telecom (OT) has been cited by Reuters as one of seven foreign telecom operators that have expressed interest in the tender. OT acquired Algeria's second mobile phone license for $737 million in July.
The long-delayed tender, which calls on private investors to set up and operate Tunisia’s second mobile network over an extendable 15-year period, is part of government efforts to liberalize the telecom sector.
The Tunisian Telecommunications Ministry called off the original tender in July 2001, after it had failed to produce “interesting offers”. The highest bidder, a Spanish-Portuguese consortium formed by Telefonica and Portugal Telecom (PT), offered $381 million at the time. Neighboring Morocco sold its second GSM license in 1999 for $1.1 billion to Meditelecom, also a Telefonica-PT consortium.
The current tender’s closing date was initially set for January 10, however it has been put off once more, and potential bidders now have until February 9 to submit their proposals. The process of granting the license is expected to be concluded in March 2002.
Tunisia awarded its first mobile phone license in 1996 to the state-owned Tunisia Telecom, which serves over 150,000 users, but targets 400,000 by year’s-end. Tunisia’s population stands at 10 million. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )