CAIRO: The number of mobile subscribers in Egypt reached 60.2 million at the end of August, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, an increase of 20.3 percent over the past year.
Mohamed Hamdy, associate director of the research department and telecom specialist at CI Capital, expects the mobile market to see even more growth despite talk of saturation.
Hamdy said CI Capital expects the mobile market to reach 100 percent penetration or 82 million subscriptions in 2013, driven by the multi-SIM phenomenon, or more than one line per user.
“We consider the market is now getting closer to the saturation phase, but saturation does not mean ‘no growth’ in the market,” he explained.
Acknowledging the eventual saturation of the market, Hamdy said that mobile operators are planning to minimize the effects of market saturation by stimulating average revenue per user (ARPU) and subscription growth by offering value-added services such as mobile banking.
“Companies [also] offer free or cheap handsets through bundles (phone + line) to low-income segments and governorates in an attempt to maintain subs growth,” he added.
While mobile subscriptions are on the rise, the number of fixed-lines continues to decline with total subscribers decreasing by approximately 5 percent, bringing the number to 9.9 million subscribers.
“Normally, fixed telephone lines are declining due to fixed-mobile conversion (FMC). Mobile companies are competing in offering free and less-expensive minutes, approaching to the fixed-line minute cost of LE 0.03.”
Hamdy said the downtrend is expected to continue unless the triple-play services (voice, data and TV) come into the market.
Hamdy previously told daily news Egypt that the potential lies in Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) licenses, which the Telecom Ministry plans to issue, allowing Telecom Egypt, Egypt’s only fixed line provider, to increase the penetration of fixed lines by bundling them with other services.
Government statistics show that the number of internet subscribers in Egypt rose to 22.1 million subscribers, an increase of 43 percent compared to the same period last year.
Hamdy attributes this to the fact that the penetration rate of internet users is still at a low level of around 15 percent.
“We believe there is a large room for internet growth in Egypt. Internet subscriptions will likely continue in delivering double-digit growth at least for the next five years,” he said.