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French Version

Nokia expects exponential growth in region

The number of cellular phone subscribers should rise by 137 percent in the Middle East and 168 percent in Africa by 2009, a Nokia regional executive told The Daily Star.

Eddy Rizk, senior communications manager for the Middle East and Africa at mobile-phone giant Nokia, said penetration for cellular lines in the Middle East is only 16 percent.

"We are going to witness exponential growth in the region," he said at a news conference announcing the launch of Nokia's newest product, the 8800.

The $1000 Nokia 8800, which features video recording and a digital music player, will be released in Lebanon "in the next few days," Rizk said.

The phone has been on the market in the Gulf for a few weeks. Rizk would not say how many units had been sold.

Nokia, the world leader in mobile-phone sales, is locked in a fierce battle with rival Ericsson to increase market share.

Markets like Pakistan, with a population of 160 million and only 8 percent market penetration, will join Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan as important emerging markets.

But increased competition in developing markets is also forcing mobile prices down, leading to disappointing second quarter results for Nokia.

While the firm increased market share from 32 to 33 percent worldwide, the average selling price of its phones dropped by $6, but second-quarter sales grew 25 percent year on year.

The new 8800 is part of Nokia's effort to boost margins from high-end mobile telephone sales. Luxury phones like the 8800 will be essential for growing sales in wealthy markets like the U.A.E., where the market is already saturated.

Amman,08 01 2005
Will Rasmussen
The Daily Star
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