African leaders keen to attract more Middle East investment

Published November 25th, 2007 - 12:03 GMT

African leaders met with Zain CEO Dr Saad Al Barrak to discuss opportunities in accelerating economic growth through the further development of mobile telecoms infrastructure. A recent research study by the London School of Economics showed that an extra 10 mobile phones per 100 people in a typical developing country leads to an additional 0.59 percentage points of growth in GDP per person. Other research indicated that for every job created in the mobile telecom sector, up to eight other jobs are created in different sectors of the economy.

Dr Al Barrak met HE President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania at State House in Dar es Salaam before proceeding to Uganda for the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF), held from 20 to 22 November where he also met HE Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda and a number of other Africa Heads of State, Commonwealth Ministers, CEOs of major corporations and other VIPs. His discussions focused on the Zain Group’s commitment and contribution to the African continent as well as the Commonwealth’s African member states comparative advantages in areas such as services, information and communications technology, banking and financial services, manufacturing, agriculture, and natural resources.

To date Zain Group is one of the largest and most successful investors on the African continent having invested over US$ 9 billion in mobile telecommunications over the past two and half years. This investment has reaped rewards as its subsidiary Celtel has witnessed an impressive growth in customers from 5 million in mid 2005 to over 24 million now. This customer figure represents two-thirds of Zain’s active customer base of 36.5 million.

During the Commonwealth Business Forum, Dr Saad Al Barrak announced the extension of One Network, the world’s first borderless mobile phone network to 12 African countries. One Network now covers more than 400 million people, close to half of the continent’s population and an area more than twice the size of Europe.

Meeting with President of Tanzania
The first leg of Dr Al Barrak’s trip was a meeting with HE Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania. The President discussed with Dr. Al Barrak the efforts and wishes of his government to attract foreign investors, particularly those from Kuwait and other Middle East, countries to Tanzania.  President Kikwete indicated that the focus of his government is to attract investors in all sectors of the economy with emphasis on infrastructure, manufacturing, transportation especially railways, tourism and exports of goods from Tanzania.

The President indicated his pleasure of the recent efforts of Celtel Tanzania in becoming the leading mobile operator in the country with a 40% market share, given it was the fourth entrant into the market. Zain through Celtel has invested US$ 200 million in 2007 in Tanzania and Dr Al Barrak committed to investing an equal amount in 2008.  He also assured President Kikwete of Zain’s long term commitment to the people of Tanzania in providing telecommunications services second to none and supporting the community at large through corporate social responsibility initiatives.


Zain stands out at the Commonwealth Business Forum
During the final day of the Commonwealth Business Forum, Dr Al Barrak held a press conference to announce the addition of six countries to Zain’s One Network, the world’s first borderless mobile network. His announcement came as One Network was simultaneously launched with press conferences and events in Burkina Faso, Chad, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. The extension was also announced at press conferences on the same day in Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

At the Commonwealth Business Forum Dr Saad Al Barrak launched the extension of One Network at a gala luncheon that was attended by dignitaries including of four Presidents, namely H.E. Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana; H.E. Armando Guebuza, President of Mozambique; HE Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and HE Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone. Other dignitaries at the event included Dr Mohan Kaul, Director General, Commonwealth Business Council; James Mulwana, Chairman Uganda Private Sector Foundation and Chairman CBF Steering Committee 2007;  Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary General of UNCTAD; Baroness Chalker, former UK Minister of Overseas Development and Chairperson of AfricaMatters; and over 1,000 other leading government and senior business executives from the Commonwealth.

During the press conference and Gala luncheon, Dr Al Barrak’s praised African leaders for the economic and social progress of their nations in recent years. He reiterated the commitment of the Zain Group to investing in Africa, noting that Zain made history in April 2005 by its landmark US$ 3.4 billion purchase of Celtel, the largest ever investment made by a Middle East company on the African continent.  Additionally he emphasized the pride that he and all Zain employees felt with the launch and now extension of One Network because this unique concept originated in Africa.

High level meetings
Following, the luncheon Dr Al Barrak and senior Zain executives held round table discussions with HE Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, HE Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone; HE Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana; Dr Mohan Kaul, James Mulwana, Chairman Uganda Private Sector Foundation and Chairman CBF Steering Committee 2007 and Gary Hoffman, Group Vice Chairman of Barclays Bank PLC, and other selected leading business people from leading international companies and organizations. At this closed meeting frank discussions were held on what needs to be done to attract foreign investment to Africa and Commonwealth nations. To this end, Dr Al Barrak made commitments that Zain will play its part in the economic and social development of Africa through further investments in the telecommunications sector and as, a responsible corporate citizen, through funding social initiatives.

The CBF is held every two years in conjunction with the high level Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, It is major international business event, which brings together over 500 government and business leaders from throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. Its aim is to promote practices and policies for the enhancement of global trade and investment providing new opportunities for business networking and partnerships.



About Zain Group 
Zain (formerly MTC) is a leading emerging markets player in the field of mobile telecommunications. The company was established in 1983 in Kuwait as the region’s first mobile operator and since the initiation of its “3x3x3” profitable expansion strategy in 2003, it has grown exponentially becoming the 4th largest telecommunications company in the world in terms of geographic presence with a footprint in 22 countries spread across the Middle East and the African continent.

As of 8 September 2007, Zain became the company’s new corporate master brand name. Currently, the company is present in 7 Middle Eastern (inclusive of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and 15 sub-Saharan African countries (inclusive of the recent Ghana licence acquisition on October 22, 2007) with over 13,500 employees, providing a comprehensive range of mobile voice and data services to over 36.4 million active individual and business customers (as of September 30, 2007).

The company operates under the Zain brand name in Kuwait, Sudan, Jordan and Bahrain. In Iraq the company operates as mtc-atheer and in Lebanon as mtc-touch. The company plans to commence operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the first half of 2008 under the Zain brand and with the recent award of a 15-year nationwide licence in Iraq, mtc-atheer will also be re-branded to Zain in early 2008.

In Africa, Zain operates under the Celtel brand ( currently in 14 sub-Saharan African countries namely: Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Celtel is the most successful pan-African mobile network, offering telecommunications services to more people in Africa than any other network. The addition of Ghana will expand Celtel’s presence to 15 countries.
In January 2007, the Group launched ACE–an implementation strategy to realize the target of its 3x3x3 vision of becoming a top ten global mobile operator by 2011. ACE seeks to extract superior value from existing assets through three main thrusts: Accelerating growth in Africa; Consolidating existing assets; and Expanding into adjacent markets.

The Zain brand is wholly owned by Mobile Telecommunications Company KSC and is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (Stock ticker: ZAIN). The company had a market capitalization of US$28 billion on 1 November, 2007.



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