The Kyrgyzstan government has announced that it will launch a tender for a majority stake in incumbent fixed line operator Kyrgyz Telecom (KT) after the country’s general elections, scheduled for 10 July. State officials reported the news at the closing of the Kyrgyzstan Invites Investors Forum, stating that the government will proceed with its plan by seeking the approval and guidance of the Foreign Investors Council, a non-commercial international committee.
KT’s development has been severely hampered by a lack of foreign investment; its fixed line network in the capital, Bishkek, is relatively modern and reliable, but elsewhere its infrastructure is still in desperate need of upgrade and expansion, and there is little capacity for high speed data. The government’s attempts to privatise the telco have become a protracted and frustrating affair; it aborted attempts to sell off half of KT’s stock in 1998 and 2003. The incumbent’s only serious rival is Saima Telecom, which launched operations in 1997 as Saima Net and offers local, national and international telephony in addition to internet services.