Libya intends to award a third mobile licence within three to six months, communications minister Usama Siala has revealed in an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Siala suggested that the government is keen to decrease its hold on the telecom sector and ‘get the private sector more involved, whether local or foreign’. He added that negotiations are currently underway with the Ministry of Economy in order to make the concession ‘attractive to the entrant’. Siala believes that a third operator will bring ‘world experience and help improve the quality of service to our subscribers’. Further, the new operator will be given the option of sharing infrastructure with the incumbent operators in heavily populated areas, freeing it up to invest in the coverage of new regions.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, previous attempts at introducing a third player ground to a halt in July 2010 when it was confirmed that UAE’s Etisalat and Turkcell of Turkey had both been overlooked for a new LYD1 billion (USD825 million) concession. Meanwhile, March 2013 saw plans to introduce a management tender for state-backed cellular duo Libyana and Almadar Aljaded abruptly cancelled. A number of major international players had been linked to the process, including Zain Group of Kuwait, Etisalat of the UAE, Orange Group (formerly France Telecom-Orange), Digicel Group of Jamaica, the UK’s Vodafone Group, Vimpelcom of Russia, Qtel of Qatar (now Ooredoo) and India’s Bharti Airtel.