Thursday, February 11, 2010
Qtel Abandons Africa Plans, Eyes More Middle East Investments
Qtel controls 36.2% of mobile operator Wataniya Telecom Algeria (Nedjma), via a 71% stake held by Kuwaiti-based Wataniya Telecom (NMTC), a 51%-owned subsidiary of Qtel. The Qatari mobile, fixed line and broadband group also holds 30% of the consortium-controlled cellco Asiacell in Iraq. In Algeria, the second national operator (SNO) fixed line licence is currently vacant; in January 2010 previous SNO Lacom’s licence was officially revoked, potentially paving the way for the concession to be reauctioned later in the year.
Dr Marafih was quoted as saying that the global financial crisis had some positive impact on Qtel’s businesses in the sense that the lowering of licence fees worldwide to a ‘more realistic’ level meant it was cheaper to expand into new markets. The lower prices, the CEO continued, will create further opportunities for Qtel’s acquisitions in the future.
‘We now have control of 14 communication companies in 17 countries,’ he said, but added, however, that Qtel has abandoned any plans for expanding into African markets because of the high levels of competition. It is thought likely he was just referring to sub-Saharan countries; Qtel recently indicated interest in entering Morocco’s mobile sector.