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French Version

Mobile phone penetration only 40 percent in MENA

Findings from the new Pyramid Research report, Middle East & North Africa Mobile Benchmarks, indicate that the mobile market is operating at only 40 percent of its penetration potential in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The MENA region has 115 million addressable subscribers and only 45 million are current subscribers. This large spread emphasizes the tremendous pent up demand and the profitability potential that will be awarded to the mobile operators best suited to tackle this regions needs.

Contributing factors to this greatly under-served market include lack of effective competition, high entry-barriers and operator's preference for high margins.

Due to the regions diversity, each country's business environment must be examined individually. According to Middle East & North Africa Mobile Benchmarks, Morocco and Oman have similar penetration levels but where a 24-percent penetration in Morocco must be seen as a remarkable achievement, the same penetration level is arguably a failure in the Omani market given its relatively wealthy population. "Success in the region's low-income markets often lies on offering low entry barriers," comments the author of the report, Jonas Lindblad. "Maroc Telecom has effectively adopted a strategy that captures maximum subscribers with low entry costs and relatively high airtime fees."

A Pyramid Research case study on Jordan and Iran analyzes the impact of competition and low entry barriers on mobile penetration. Iran and Jordan have similar GDP/capita - about $1,850 - yet Iran has a meager 4.2-percent mobile penetration compared to Jordan's 25-percent penetration. With similar demographics, Jordan's efficiently regulated and competitive market allows it to capture much of the addressable market and significantly outperform Iran.

Beirut,09 21 2004
The Daily Star
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