Lebanon’s Cabinet has approved the terms and conditions of a public tender to award new management contracts for the country’s two state-owned mobile networks, currently managed under short-term renewable contracts by Zain Group of Kuwait (under the Touch brand) and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media & Technology Holding (OTMT, under the Alfa banner). Iloubnan.info reports that in parallel, the Cabinet extended until the end of 2015 the existing management contracts for Mobile Interim Company 1 (Alfa) and Mobile Interim Company 2 (Touch), having previously issued contract extensions to the respective local holding companies of OTMT and Zain – Orascom Telecom Lebanon and Mobile Telecommunications Company Lebanon – running from October 2014 to May 2015.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that in February 2013 the Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT) revealed proposals to award longer-term (five-year) contracts to manage the two state-owned mobile networks, but at the time the caretaker government lacked the political power to implement the mobile reform plan. Current telecoms minister Boutros Harb – in office since February 2014 – has subsequently been able to push forward with certain telecoms reforming policies, the latest being the kick-starting of the public tender for longer-term mobile management contracts, following more than two years of delays. Zain and OTMT will face competition from major international mobile groups in the tender.