operators support liberalisation
Posted: 25 May 2003
Whereas privatisation and competition are bound to bring
in more revenue for governments, more services for people and more
value to the consumer, opening up the markets too much too soon
could discourage investors says Wataniya’s David Murray who
will participate in next week’s telecommunications and internet
forum in Beirut
The advent of competition and privatisation in the Middle East’s
Telecommunications industry is bound to expand the market, yet each
government in the region has to consider every move before introducing
new policies, according to Wataniya Telecom, the regional telecommunications
operator that started as the GCC’s first GSM competitor in
Kuwait in 1997 and has now expanded into Tunisia.
“Opening up the markets is certainly the way to go, yet,
liberalisation could be a double edged sword” said David Murray,
Wataniya Telecom’s General Manager, “Governments should
not move too quickly because every market needs the time to grow
and mature before it is taken to the next step. Regulation is essential
moving forwards, it should be prioritised ”
Mr. Murray will speak at the mobile operators’ roundtable
which will be held next week in Beirut as part of the Arab Telecommunication
and Internet Forum. The roundtable is expected to address the subjects
of regulation, convergence in telecommunications, the advent of
competition and financing.
“We are at a crossroads in the development of Telecommunications
in the Middle East” continued Murray “Most regional
markets are opening up to competition and liberalisation which holds
tremendous potential in terms of growth, and will give users access
to state of the art services and technologies, but this process
has to be carried out in a controlled manner if we do not want to
face the same kind of issues that the sector is having to deal with
in other regions, mainly Europe. We should not try to expand our
markets too fast too soon.
"This would stretch companies financially, start price wars
and de-focus everyone from the bottom line, which is the value that
the sector can bring to consumers. To that effect, regulation is
"Only independent and transparent regulation will give credibility
to our markets and create healthy environments where consumers,
investors and governments feel protected.”
Whereas international players were notably absent from telecommunications
bids in the region such as the ones in Bahrain and Lebanon, regional
players have been actively seeking expansion.
“Most of the region’s markets are relatively limited
in size, which means that operators have to expand into new countries
to achieve healthy
growth” said Murray “by doing so, they will get access
to economies of scale that allow them to develop their business
and introduce new technologies faster, to more markets in the region.
But financial viability should remain the chief concern, at Wataniya
Telecom, it is the main factor that we consider before venturing
into any new market”
Wataniya was the first company to enter a GCC market as a competitor
in the GSM sector when it was established in Kuwait in 1997, following
18 years of monopoly.
Today, the company holds more than 50 per cent market share in
Kuwait, and is gaining ground quickly in Tunis where it owns 50
per cent of Tunisiana.
About Wataniya Telecom
Established in 1997, Wataniya Telecom is the second licensed GSM
mobile operator in the State of Kuwait. With a market capitalisation
exceeding US $1.5 Billion, the Company has been a driving force
in increasing the mobile communications market penetration in Kuwait
to over 54 percent of the population.
The Company recently expanded internationally in November 2002
as the second licensed mobile telecommunications operator in Tunisia
through its acquisition of 50 percent of GSM operator Tunisiana.
With over 675,000 subscribers, Wataniya Telecom has built its success
on a customer focused strategy built on the philosophy that ‘caring
makes the difference.’
The Company provides a wide range of leading edge wireless voice
and data services delivered with high quality and designed to meet
customer requirements Recognised by a GCC Ministerial award in 2002
for employing and developing the national workforce, Wataniya Telecom
is committed to employing, investing in and promoting local nationals
within the countries in which it operates.
Posted by Richard Price,
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