The current wave uprisings sweeping across Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region are not expected to hit the growth of the telecoms sector.
“We will not see a drop in subscriptions, but the uncertainties could impact revenues and delays in investment,” says Lindsey McDonald, consultant at the Mena information and communication technologies practice at US-based Frost & Sullivan.
Egypt’s mobile market, one of the most competitive in North Africa, is expected to reach saturation by early 2012, with growth expected to slow down by 12 to 13 per cent. Subscriber numbers are likely to double by 2017.
Mobile broadband will be the main area for growth in the North African markets, helped by low fixed-line penetration rates and poor infrastructure. It will provide operators with new revenue streams through social media and location-based services, but high illiteracy rates and lack of education in the region will be one of the biggest inhibitors to the uptake of sophisticated data services.
The North Africa mobile market is very price sensitive compared with the GCC due to low income levels in the region. France Telecom-owned Orange in Tunisia has increased pressure on Tunisia Telecom and Tunisiana with an aggressive pricing strategy. Etisalat Egypt focused on the low-income segment when it launched in 2007 and managed to attract 10 million subscribers in just three years.