New Ogero head criticises state handling of mobile market

29 Nov 2005

A senior Lebanese telecoms official has publicly criticised the country’s two mobile operators and said that the government should re-evaluate its management contracts for the pair to better serve local customers, according to local paper the Daily Star. The government agreed four-year build-transfer-operate (BTO) contracts with Kuwaiti-based MTC and German firm Detecon to manage and operate the state’s mobile businesses in June 2004. The state will pay Detecon around USD201.3 million to manage Alfa (formerly known as Cellis) and MTC USD209.3 million to run MTC Touch Lebanon (previously LibanCell), but expansion of both networks has been reined in by the strict nature of the contracts. ‘The current contracts are hindering the development of the telecom sector and preventing investment in the mobile phone sector,’ Abdel-Menem Youssef, the new director of state-owned fixed line operator Ogero, told the paper. Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh has admitted that the government’s decision to award BTO contracts to manage the duo may have been ‘the wrong approach’ and says his ministry is looking into new ways to help the market grow, including privatisation of the incumbent cellcos and the licensing of a new, possibly 3G, operator.