Sudan’s fixed line and cellular markets are still monopoly markets operated by Sudatel and its cellular subsidiary Mobitel. The cellular sector is expecting a second mobile operator by the end of 2004, while the fixed line sector is slated for liberalization in 2005. Due to competition, a newreport from Arab Advisors Group projects Sudan’s fixed lines to grow at an annual rate of 25% between 2003 and 2008 to exceed a penetration rate of 7.7% by 2008, up from 2.8% in 2003. During the same period, it projects a compounded annual growth rate of 50% in the cellular market to exceed a penetration rate of 10% by 2008, up from 1.6% in 2003. In 2003, Sudatel’s fixed line subscribers increased by 39% to reach 936,756 subscribers up from 671,842 subscribers in 2002.

“In 2001, Sudan formed the National Telecommunication Corporation as the regulatory body for telecommunication services. NTC was established under Telecom Act 2001. The NTC regulates the establishment, operation and maintenance of telecommunication services in the country. It also promotes the interest of telecommunication service providers and beneficiaries. This represents one of Sudan’s preliminary, yet major, steps towards liberalizing its telecommunications market and attracting Foreign Direct Investment into this important sector.” Sami Sunna’, Arab Advisors Group’s research manager wrote in the report.

“Despite the healthy growth rates, it is noted that the fixed line and cellular penetration rates are still considered low by regional standards at 2.8% and 1.6%, respectively. The Arab Advisors Group believes that this is mainly due to the current unstable political, economic, and security conditions in the country. The size of the country and its inhospitable terrain are important factors, as well. It is also noteworthy that the relatively low GDP per capita in Sudan is one of the factors contributing to the low fixed line and cellular penetration rates in the country. Sudan has a very low GDP per capita, by regional standards, which is estimated at USD 566 per capita.” Mr. Sunna’ commented.