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Competition and faster growth

Minister of Information and Communication

SUDAN boasts one of the most modern and fastest growing telecommunication sectors in Africa. Liberalization and market-oriented policies have created a competitive environment that has fostered the development of a fully digital infrastructure.
Private companies have entered a market of more than 34 million people that is seen as having enormous growth potential. Over the past five years fixed telephony in Sudan has shown the most rapid growth in Africa, with a compound annual growth rate of over 40 percent.

The growth potential of the cellular market in particular was highlighted with the announcement last month of one of Sudan’s biggest ever investment deals. Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) is spending $1.3 billion to acquire 61 percent of Mobitel, the cellular subsidiary of state-run Sudatel.

Saad Al Barrak, MTC’s Deputy Chairman and Managing Director, says MTC plans to invest approximately $500 million up to 2007. “We expect to add over one million customers in Sudan during the next 12 months.”

Mobitel is Sudan’s premier mobile operator with more than 1.9 million customers, but since last July it has faced competition.

Liberalization of the sector has led to the arrival of competition in the form of the Areeba network, launched by the Beirut-based international telecom company, Investcom Holding.

Last November saw the launch of Sudan’s second nationwide fixed line service by Canar Telecommunication Company, a subsidiary of the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat). Saood Al Jenaibi, Managing Director of Canar, says, “What brought us to Sudan was the potential for growth. There is a lot of potential for broadband services.”

The government is promoting information and communications technologies (ICT) as the way ahead. Minister of Information and Communication Zahawi Ibrahim Malik says, “Given the size of Sudan, the only way forward is to go cyber.”

The government is encouraging more companies to enter the market and to make ICT accessible. The minister adds, “E-government will save money and time in the interaction of the people with the government. E-health and e-education programs are already in place.”