Minister of Communications and Information Technology Yasser Al-Qadi discussed the available investment opportunities in Egypt’s communications and information technology sector, particularly opportunities in fourth generation mobiles (4G), with officials from the Saudi Arabian technical services company Servtech.
The meeting held yesterday was attended by Servtech CEO Abu Aisha, on behalf of Prince Abdulaziz Bin Mishaal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and Emad Mohamed Abu Aisha, the personal adviser of Bin Mishaal. It was also attended by Adib Hiasat, the development adviser of the group.
Servtech is considered the main partner of the international telecommunications company Lebara. The latter is one of the fastest growing mobile service companies in Europe and is present in 10 countries, including Saudi Arabia.
The communications minister held a meeting nearly a month ago with CEO of Kuwaiti Zein after receiving an official letter from the Kuwaiti company expressing their desire to compete for the 4G licences. The minister then met with CEO of Saudi Arabian STC at the beginning of this week. Afterwards, he announced that he would not allow foreign companies to obtain the licences that are currently being launched, unless they are rejected by local companies.
The ministry launched four licences for 4G services for the telecommunications companies Telecom Egypt (TE), Vodafone, Orange, and Etisalat. In the case that any of these companies reject obtaining the licence, they will be launched in a global tender.
An official in one of the mobile services companies said that the steps taken by the ministry in revealing that negotiations are underway with foreign companies to obtain 4G licences is simply a way to pressure local mobile companies to accept the conditions stipulated by the ministry for the licences. The three companies—Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat—have expressed their disagreement with some aspects of the 4G licence obtainment conditions. The main disagreement is the high price of the licences, and the ministry’s stipulation that half the amount must be paid in US dollars. This was considered difficult by the companies, especially given the lack of foreign currency in the Egyptian economy. Moreover, mobile companies do not accept TE’s monopolisation over the market’s infrastructure.