The South Sudan government has temporarily suspended the work of telecommunications companies in the country as the new political body works on regulations to govern their operations in the area, which will become an independent country next July.
According to Zain’s Chief Operations Officer Hisham Mustafa Allam, the move could delay the infrastructure projects in the country and the laying of fiber-optics in the area as preparation for the new country.
Allam did add in comments published by Reuters news agency that he did not expect the company’s mobile license to be revoked after July, but said he could not be “100 percent sure” that this would not happen.
The move comes as the South Sudan government continues to accuse the North of listening in on phone calls of senior representatives via telecom officials. They have shown documents proving the fact, even as Khartoum denies the charges.
Zain, the largest mobile network in the country, launched in South Sudan in 2006 and two years later pushed forward on a major expansion initiative that saw mobile towers increase to 150 at a $300 million price tag.
“For Zain, the decision to rollout in South Sudan was purely a strategic decision; it was not a business decision, because at that time we had Zain Uganda and Zain Kenya and so to have one network you couldn’t have it without South Sudan,” Allam said.
“Having said this, we believe there is opportunity in South Sudan. We will not say South Sudan is not good for business. There’s still opportunity for business in South Sudan when things start to stabilize and infrastructure is there.”
By Desmond Shephard