By Yasmine Saleh and Michael Georgy
CAIRO, March 12 (Reuters) - Egypt’s landline monopoly Telecom Egypt expects a newly-formed government to grant it a licence to provide mobile services this month or next, the state-controlled company’s chief executive said on Wednesday.
Telecom Egypt has been relying on its data business to boost revenue and has been waiting to launch a new mobile operation that would complement its existing joint venture with Vodafone and rival the sector’s two other players.
The growth of those businesses is steadily eating away at Telecom Egypt’s traditional fixed-line services as Egyptians opt to use mobile phones and the internet instead, forcing the company to seek ways of expanding its exposure to mobile.
Egypt’s economy has been harmed by three years of political and economic turmoil that followed the downfall of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak after a popular uprising in 2011 and the army’s ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year.
Army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who orchestrated Mursi’s ouster, is expected to be voted in as president in coming elections.
Telecom Egypt chief executive Mohamed el-Nawawy expects the mobile services licence to be issued in March or April, he told Reuters after the company announced 2013 results.
The Cairo-based group posted net profit of 2.96 billion Egyptian pounds ($425 million) for 2013, compared with 2.62 billion in 2012. It earned revenues of 11.13 billion Egyptian pounds, against 10.03 billion the year before.
Nawawy said expectations for 2014 would be announced later and described 2013 as “a great year” in terms of growth.
The company, of which the government owns 80 percent, serves 35 million customers in seven million homes. Egypt’s telecoms’ regulator said in 2012 it would grant the firm a licence to provide mobile services and would later let mobile companies offer fixed-lined services using Telecom Egypt’s infrastructure.
Egypt has three mobile operators: Vodafone Egypt, Mobinil, which is controlled by France Telecom, and Dubai-based Etisalat.