Orascom to bid for Egypt fixed licence and wins first private submarine cable concession

Telecoms

Orascom Telecom will bid for Egypt's second fixed line telephony licence, which the government plans to sell next year, Egypt's official Middle East News Agency (MENA) said on Sunday. Etisalat Egypt, a unit of UAE-based Etisalat, has also said it would bid for the licence. ‘Orascom plans to compete strongly for the second fixed line phone licence,’ MENA quoted Orascom Telecom's Chairman Naguib Sawiris as saying.

Minister of Communications Tarek Kamel said in late June that Egypt would offer a licence to operate a second fixed line network, ending years of monopoly by state-dominated Telecom Egypt. The second fixed line network would start operating in early 2009. Egyptian cellco, Mobinil, in which Orascom owns a 31.26% stake, said on Sunday it would also consider bidding for the fixed line licence, either directly or through a shareholder. Orascom also received a licence on Sunday to build a submarine network for international phone calls. The 20-year concession allows the Cairo-based group to build 3,850km of underwater cables and around 1,000km of inland cables for international calls between Asia and Europe through Egypt. ‘This is the first time that such a licence is given to a private-sector operator in Egypt,’ Orascom said in a statement. It said the cable network would be operational during the first quarter of 2009. The total investment in the project was USD233.8 million.

Telegeography