Unified licence still pending as some issues still to be resolved

22 Oct 2014

Egypt’s recently approved unified licensing regime has yet to come into full effect, Reuters reports, citing communications minister Atef Helmy. It is understood that continued delays have come about in light of the fact that some issues remain unresolved with regards to the regulatory plans. According to Mr Helmy, the local telecoms regulator is still finalising certain details related to the licensing scheme, though the unified concession itself – which will allow fixed line incumbent Telecom Egypt (TE) to enter the mobile sector under its owns steam – is expected to be activated within weeks. ‘The work is going on and we are expecting within the coming few weeks to be able to finalise everything and announce it,’ the minister was cited as saying.

With the unified licence law having stipulated the creation of a new company dedicated to developing Egypt’s telecom infrastructure – a role so far carried out by TE – Helmy noted that military-controlled companies would play an important part in this new entity, though denied that the army would have a controlling stake; with existing telcos and other firms also involved in the venture, precise roles are still to be determined.

Meanwhile, Egypt is said to be seeking investment of up to USD9 billion with a view to upgrading the country’s telecommunications infrastructure as part of efforts to attract multinational businesses and restore growth. According to Helmy, between USD5 billion and USD6 billion is required for the rollout of broadband services across Egypt, while a further USD3 billion will be used for the construction of seven technology parks which could lure multinational companies to invest in Egypt and create local job opportunities. With a number of these investment opportunities expected to be presented at an economic summit due to be held in Sharm-al-Sheikh in February 2015, the minister was cited as saying: ‘There is no doubt that the telecoms and technology sector is one of the most competitive sectors when it comes to investment and as part of building our new Egypt…(it) is a cornerstone.’