CAIRO: The number individuals in Egypt accessing telecommunications systems through mobile phones and the internet continues to rise.
According to a report by the Information and Decision Support Center, 44.59 million people in Egypt hold mobile phone subscriptions. This is an increase of 12.4 million over the first quarter last year.
The number of internet users in Egypt also expanded in the last year, from 10.92 to 13 million users. Land-line (or fixed-line) usage has experienced modest growth, but at nowhere near the rate of mobile phone subscriptions. The flexibility, availability and reliability that mobile phones offer have radically altered the market. Mobile phones have reached markets in Egypt which traditional land-lines never could by virtue of geographic and economics. With regards to internet, Telecom Egypt has witnessed an 83 percent increase in DSL subscriptions during the last year. The telecom giant also had a 72 percent rise in net profits from the first quarter of 2008 to 2009. A healthy economy during the previous four years has contributed to this growth. It is unclear whether this explosive growth can be maintained. Stagnation in the new future is possible, as some analysts speculate the possible market for mobile phones has nearly been exhausted. Mobile usage has only penetrated a little over half of the Egy
ptian population, which stands at 81.7 million according to 2008 figures. Other countries in North Africa, like Libya, Algeria and Tunisia, have far higher rates of penetration.
But the fact that 25 percent of the Egyptian population is below the poverty line means that the ceiling for penetration may be lower as this market typically does not have the means to subscribe to mobile services, according to MMC group analysts. Nadine Ghobrial of EFG Hermes noted that mobile usage had penetrated 54 percent of the population in 2008, and it is predicted that it will be reach 84 percent by 2015. New additions to the market peaked in 2007, with 13.5 million new users, and we expect new additions to slow down in the years to come, said Ghobrial. While new the number additions will decrease as mobile technology spreads, with an average age of 24, Egypt s population is very young. Many more Egyptians will be coming of age in the near future and will become new customers for this technology. Prepaid subscriptions to mobile services will increase as they have been in recent years, analysts predict. Postpaid subscriptions have remained flat.
Market shares of Mobinil and Vodafone will slide, according to several reports and analysts, whilst newcomer Etisalat will gain a larger share of the market. A report from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology corroborates this continued growth in the mobile and internet sectors.