Telenor of Norway is the latest big name to enter the running for Egypt’s third mobile licence, announcing plans to team up with local company National Telecommunications Holding Corporation (NTC) to make a bid for the concession. ‘Telenor has extensive experience in running mobile operations in different countries, but it is nevertheless vital to have a proper local partner,’ Telenor’s Executive Vice-President Jan Edvard Thygesen said in a statement. ‘NTC and Telenor supplement each other very well, and we are confident that this partnership provides us with an excellent basis for the process ahead.’ NTC has extensive holdings in Egypt’s internet access market, including a stake in leading broadband service provider EgyNet.
‘Egypt is an interesting market with two operators today,’ Telenor spokesman Esben Tuman Johnsen told local press. ‘It is an emerging market and sits very well with the opportunities we are looking for.’ Egypt’s National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) says 21 companies have paid USD25,000 for tender documents for the GSM licence auction so far. Etisalat of the UAE, MTC of Kuwait and South Africa’s MTN are all planning to bid and, despite previous comments that incumbent fixed line operator Telecom Egypt would not be allowed to participate, the telco has reportedly been given tacit authority to enter the tender. Interested parties now have until 4 May to submit their proposals after the NTRA extended the original 17 April deadline. To qualify for the licence, foreign bidders must partner with an Egyptian entity and pay a USD4.4 million bond guarantee.