Libya prepares for its election in June, investors have started showing interest in the country’s telecommunications sector. According to Communications Minister Anwar El-Feitori,  at least three or four foreign operators have expressed interest in entering Libya. “But we’ll leave it to the next government to decide on that,” he told Reuters.

Etisalat, Qatar Telecom (Qtel) and Saudi Telecom are some of the international firms that are keen to enter Libya. Presently, the only two mobile operators in the country, Al Madar and Libyana, are state-owned, thus creating room for expansion in the sector.

Foreign investment in the sector is much needed after a fifth of Libya’s transmitter stations were destroyed in last year’s revolution ending Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year dictatorship, Reuters report.

Although Libya energy reserves mean median incomes are much higher than for neighbouring countries, the country report a lower phone and internet penetration.

Libya’s mobile phone penetration, the ratio of phones to the population, rocketed from under 1 percent in 2001 to 172 percent in 2010, according to official data…  Real mobile penetration is probably much lower, allowing room for growth, while Libya’s broadband and internet penetration lag the regional average and are below levels for the country’s poorer neighbours. In 2010, 14 percent of people in Libya were using the Internet, according to the International Telecommunications Union, compared with 49 percent in Morocco, 37 percent in Tunisia and 27 percent in Egypt.

Recognising the huge demand for telecom services,  Feitori said Libya would open its telecommunications market to fresh competition “when we have the rules for the competition and when we have the right infrastructure for that as well”.

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