The Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) has requested that telecoms companies operating in the region suspend work there until the administration publishes new regulations for the sector, Reuters reports, citing Hisham Mustafa Allam, chief operation officer for Zain Sudan. South Sudan is expected to become Africa’s newest nation in July 2011 after voting to secede earlier this year. According to Allam, the GoSS’s decision could force Zain, Sudan’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, to postpone some work on base stations and the rolling out of fibre-optics. Though he expected the company’s mobile licence would be valid in South Sudan after July, Allam said he could not be ‘100 per cent’ sure that would be the case. ‘There’s potential for South Sudan, but there are big challenges,’ he said, adding: ‘One of the problems we have right now is it costs lots of money to build sites and do a rollout (of fibre) in the south.’ He stated that deployment of a broadband network in the region is particularly expensive because the landlocked country has to rely on north Sudan or Kenya for access to submarine cables. Kuwait-based Zain has reportedly invested USD300 million – or about 20% of total capital expenditure in Sudan – over the past five years in the south, and has rolled out around 150 base stations in the region.