Abu Dhabi, Asharq Al-Awsat- Emirates Telecommunications Corporation- Etisalat- has signed an agreement with authorities in Afghanistan to operate a GSM network. The agreement was signed by HE Amirzai Sangin, Minister of Communication, Afghanistan, and Mohammad Hassan Omran, Chairman of Etisalat, at the Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi, on 23rd May 2006.
Etisalat will pay US$ 40.1 million for the licence to operate a GSM network in Afghanistan, and the company is expected to commence operations in early 2007. The licence is valid for 15 years and is renewable.
Mohammad Hassan Omran said: “This agreement is very important to us as it gives us entry into a large emerging market. This licence is a reflection on our strategy to expand internationally, and our ambition to be among the Top 10 telecom operators in the world within five years.”
“Afghanistan is a market with good potential. With a population of 28 million and a growth rate of 4.5 per cent, GSM penetration still remains extremely low. This will give a committed GSM operator a great opportunity to address the low penetration, and devise packages and applications that will be appreciated by the masses. Our strategy will be to provide affordable services with immense value”, he added.
Etisalat is keen to partner with local investors in Afghanistan to establish the company, a strategy it follows in most international markets that it has entered.
“We realize that we will have a special role to play in Afghanistan. We are confident of introducing the most appropriate services and packages for the Afghan people. We are sure that the people of Afghanistan will welcome our presence, and appreciate our efforts in not only in boosting their telecommunications sector, but in enhancing the economy as a whole. We look forward to deploying technologies and solutions that can bring Afghanistan on par with the rest of the world”, Omran added.