In an interview on Radio Algerienne’s Chaine 1 on 14 October, Belhamadi said the government would probably wait until Algerie Telecom turned itself into a more competitive company.

“I think the Algerian government will not open Algerie Telecom’s capital before allowing it to be competitive at the regional and international level,” said Belhamadi.

“It’s up to the government to make a decision but according to our development strategy, the group may be competitive regionally and internationally in two or three years.”

Belhamadi’s remarks were reported by Algerian newspaper El-Watan on 15 October.

Algerie Telecom, which does not disclose its customer numbers, is thought to be the second largest mobile operator in Algeria, after Djezzy, which is owned by Egypt’s Orascom Telecom but ahead of Nedjma, which is owned by Qatar’s Qtel.

Djezzy had 14.2 million customers at the end of June and Nedjma had 4.8 million at the end of March, which was the last time it gave an update on its performance.