Lebanon’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has received a grant from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to improve its operations and has invited consultants to bid for the advisory role on the project.

The closing date for bids is 3 December.

The project is intended to streamline the TRA’s internal processes and improve transparency.

“Strengthening the TRA will not have a direct impact on the industry, but any efforts that go into TRA functions and capabilities to regulate the market are positive” says Said Irfan, telecoms research manager at IDC.

Lebanon’s telecoms sector is tightly controlled by the state and is severely under-developed when compared to the rest of the region. There are two mobile operators, which are owned by the state, but managed by Kuwait’s Zain and Egypt’s Orascom through management licences. The fixed line operator is also a state-owned operation. Prices are high and there is little room for innovation.

A stronger TRA could be the first step towards a more liberalised telecommunications market and an increase in private sector investment.  

Earlier this year, the Telecommunications Ministry unveiled $160m investment plan for laying infrastructure to support high-speed internet and third generation mobile networks.

The TRA was established in 2002.