INTERNATIONAL. The last three weeks have brought the news that Etisalat's deal to acquire 46% of Zain is now cleared and that Qtel has purchased a 50% share in Tunisiana for US$1.2 billion.
Frost & Sullivan believes that 2011 will be a critical year for the Middle East's regional operators to extend and consolidate their position in the global telecoms market.
Etisalat's presence in more than 14 countries is to be extended with its acquisition of Zain and the Qtel Group is now a major force in a number of markets in the region and beyond.
It is expected that operators such as Batelco are likely to push for expansion as well at a time when the opportunity to do so through the issuing of new licenses becomes increasingly rare.
Markets such as Syria, Iraq and to some extent Libya offer compelling opportunities to operators, albeit within a high-risk environment.
Success in the year to come will depend not only upon readily available cash flow with which to make acquisitions and finance operations, but will also revolve around the operators' ability to differentiate through service variety and quality as well as to ensure that OPEX levels are minimized.
Note. Perspective by Lindsey McDonald, Consultant, Information & Communication Technologies Practice, MENA, Frost & Sullivan.