Iraq awards mobile phone licences

Mobile sector is one of the few to actually benefit from the country's instability.

    Installation of Baghdad's mobile phone system began in 2004 [EPA]

    Thriving sector

    Iraqi mobile subscriptions were virtually non-existent three years ago but surged to five million by the end of 2006, out of a total population of 26 million people.

    The country's fixed-line network was hit by sanctions after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and barely survived bombing during the  US-led invasion of 2003.

    Dearbhla McHenry, a Boston-based Middle East analyst from Pyramid Research, said the mobile phone industry is one of the few sectors that actually seems to be benefiting from Iraq's instability and crumbling infrastructure.

    "Iraq's comparatively fast-growing mobile penetration rate is explained partly by the poor quality of the fixed network," McHenry said. "And partly by the very lack of security, which makes investing in Iraq so risky".

    Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications, the third-largest Arab telecom company by market value, has already been operating MTC Atheer in Iraq on a short-term licence and had said it was seeking a long-term permit.

    Qatar Telecommunications owns 40 per cent of Asiacell through the Kuwait-based subsidiary National Mobile Telecommunications which it took over in March.

    Iraq's Korek Telecom operates in the country's northern Kurdish regions.

    Ali al-Dabagh, an Iraqi government spokesman, said: "Iraqi citizens may possess as much as 45 per cent of the three companies' shares, and the Iraqi government would receive 18 per cent of the companies' annual profits".

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.