Wireless Intelligence, a research organisation, had estimated Etisalat Misr only had 900,000 customers at the end of September.

However, the company is not having as much success in developing its revenue streams from its customers. Wael Ziada, a telecoms analyst at Egyptian investment bank EFG-Hermes, warns that Etisalat Misr is only generating small revenues because its customers make little use of the network.

He says they are taking advantage of promotions to call other Etisalat Misr customers at a low cost, but are not calling people on the other two networks: Mobinil and Vodafone Egypt.

“When I talk to Mobinil and Vodafone Egypt, they say people at Etisalat Misr do not call their networks,” he says. “The story as we are hearing it is that the activity by Etisalat Misr customers is weak.”

In Egypt, people frequently switch the SIM cards in their phones to take advantage of offers introduced by different networks.

Etisalat does not break down its financial results to reveal the performance of all its sub-sidiaries.

The group’s profit margin fell to 33.8 per cent of revenues for the three months to the end of September, down from 38.6 per cent in the same period in 2006.

Profits were AED1.8bn ($490m), up from AED1.6bn in 2006. Ziada predicts it will take Etisalat Misr three to six years to generate profits.