The IMF was about to sign off a US$4.8 billion loan to Egypt but is currently holding this back following the removal of President Morsi. However, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait have just approved US$12 billion in loans, grants and cash. Like most sectors of the economy, Egypts telecom sector is currently being affected by the political crisis, but once the situation stabilises again, it will be an attractive market for investors to re-enter.
The strongest growth is currently seen in mobile broadband services, which offers the network operators new revenue streams in an environment of falling average revenue per user (ARPU). All three operators have also acquired controlling stakes in leading data and Internet service providers. Egypt was one of the first countries in Africa to launch 3G mobile services, following the award of the country’s third mobile licence in 2006. The record price that was paid for the licence indicated the potential that is seen in the Egyptian mobile market, and the penetration rate has indeed multiplied since then and broke the 100% barrier in 2011. The country’s telecom regulator is now preparing to issue Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) licences, with fixed-line operator Telecom Egypt standing ready to enter the market. A fourth mobile network licence may also be tendered in the future. In return, the mobile operators may be allowed to enter the fixed-line market.
Egypt has the largest fixed-line market in Africa and the Arab region, with a profitable incumbent telco which has been partially privatised through an IPO. However, the country’s political crisis has not left this sector unaffected: Revenue has remained stable, ARPU has actually risen, but profit margins and capital expenditure are down due to a weaker local currency, especially since the beginning of 2013.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year