Etisalat Misr is focusing on improving the efficiency of its network and raising the quality of services it provides to its subscribers, as well as data transfer and corporate solutions in 2017. According to Hazem Metwally, CEO of Etisalat Misr, the company has invested EGP 1.7bn in the Egyptian market during 2016, with expectations to invest even more in 2017, following the launch of 4G services.
What guarantees does the company deem necessary to achieve fair competition after Telecom Egypt (TE) entered the mobile market?
Our relationship with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) is based on partnership. Hence, we trust that the concerned parties, led by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and NTRA, will exert the needed efforts to regulate commercial relations and strengthen fair competition between companies working in the sector.
Do you expect your market share to drop following the entry of a fourth player? What plans do you have to maintain your share or increase it?
We look forward to increasing our market share; we always welcome competition under fair market conditions.
What are the latest developments in the company’s negotiations with TE regarding renting a mobile network through the local roaming protocol?
It is going to be a national roaming agreement, not network rental, and we are optimistic about it so far.
Does Etisalat Misr stipulate renting its network towers to TE, to conclude the interconnection agreement that has been pending for nine years?
There will be a national roaming agreement between us and TE in place, while NTRA will settle matters between both companies.
What are the company’s targets in terms of the number of customers and revenues in the first year after offering landline services?
Landline services are necessary within the framework of integrated services that will be offered to clients. We plan on offering customers a number of innovative solutions and deals that would encourage them to subscribe with us.
Do you expect a decline in the prices of telecommunication services after the entry of the fourth operator?
Competition is always in favour of the consumer. Meanwhile, it is more important now to think about the quality of services rendered to customers and return on investment for shareholders to ensure the continuity of companies.
When do you expect to offer an integrated bill of landline and mobile services, including both calls and data?
As soon as we obtain the frequency bands and conclude the operation agreement with TE.
What are the company’s main strategy elements for 2017?
We put our customers and their needs at the top of our priorities. Furthermore, we plan to raise the efficiency of our network and improve it. Additionally, we will expand our data transfer solutions and launch new 4G offers and promotions. We also plan on focusing on the fast growing corporate sector.
What are the challenges facing the telecommunications market in Egypt?
Infrastructure upgrade is one of the most important challenges that must be dealt with and which will eventually reflect on the Egyptian market and the economy as a whole. One must add to that the rising operation costs and equipment prices paid in foreign currency.
Did the company study the impact of the flotation of the Egyptian pound and how this may affect costs and profit repatriation to shareholders? Are there solutions initiated by the company to rationalise spending to maintain a profit margin?
We are certainly conducting continuous studies on the impact of economic reforms on increasing costs. We are also seeking unconventional solutions that mainly aim to maintain the service quality we offer our clients.
How much do you plan to invest next year? And what is the expected size of investments earmarked for data services?
Next year will see more investments than the past period, driven by funds earmarked for 4G and landline services. Our annual investments range between EGP 1.5-2.5bn. Last year, we invested about EGP 1.7bn on improving and developing the networks, even though we did not obtain new frequencies at the time. We expect this figure to increase in 2017.
Does the company intend to distribute dividends to shareholders this year?
We are looking into that, based on our final results. The distribution of dividends is decided by the shareholders.
How do you see the growth of money transfer through mobile phones?
Money transfer via mobile phones is attesting noticeable growth. We believe that the coming period will see a breakthrough in that service, as it offers banking services to a large segment of people who do not have bank accounts. E-payment services will push the entire economy forward through cutting down on the time needed for payments and reducing the cost of printing banknotes.