Syria currently has two cellular telecommunications companies, Syriatel and MTN, which in 2014 obtained a license to operate for 20 years within the Syrian market. Their revenues exceed 404.5 billion pounds in 2020. Syria telecoms
Syria is to have a third mobile operator, the country’s cabinet revealed at its weekly session.
According to the Syria Arab News Agency, the new operator will enter the market in a three-phase process, “including initial rehabilitation, investment and technical rehabilitation and the financial auction“.
The cabinet has also granted an initial approval to offer full mobile licences to Syria’s existing operators, Syriatel and MTN Syria, which currently operate services under Build-Operate-Transfer (B.O.T.) agreements. However, such a move will rely on the two operators honouring certain unspecified financial obligations to the public treasury.
Local media published pictures showing the license decision in favor of a company called Wafa Telecom, a private equity firm based in Damascus. Wafa Telecom can open branches, warehouses, offices, and appoint representatives inside or outside Syria.
Although the decision was signed on September 30, 2020, it was published in the second part of issue 20 of the Official Gazette 2021. The decision states that the company’s goal is to operate as a cell phone carrier and conduct any economic and commercial activity permitted in Syria, in accordance with a license of the “Telecommunications and Postal Regulatory Authority.” These activities include the import, export, and trade of telecommunications devices and electronic circuits.
The company’s articles provide for delivering cell phone and related services, under the name Wafa Communications (Telecom) Private Equity.
Seven companies Syria telecoms
Seven Syrian companies contributed to founding WAFA Telecom. They are WAFA telecom, ABC l.l.c, IBC advanced, IBC technology, IBC telecom, tele space, tell you. All of these companies’ headquarters are located in Damascus.
The license decision explained that the company’s capital amounts to only 10 billion Syrian pounds, distributed over 100 million shares where the value of each share is 100 pounds. The duration of the contract is 22 years, starting from the date of the meeting of the General Constituent Assembly, with the possibility of extension to be approved by the ministry.
The second clause of the new company’s rights stipulates that it is allowed to conclude contracts of different types with companies, banks, governmental and non-governmental institutions. The clause also states that the company has the right to cooperate with natural persons, local or foreign legal persons, and provide payment or transfer services for money and other cellular affairs.
Last year, mobile phone users in Syria staged a boycott of services to protest against high tariffs.
Josep M. Moya, a partner at Delta Partners, said that mobile users in Syria were probably frustrated not just with the relatively high cost of calls and per minute billing, but also the restrictive validity of top-up cards.
At the time, customers buying the most popular card, worth SYP150 ($3.25), had only seven days to use the credit before facing disconnection. This system forced mobile users to spend a minimum of SYP600 per month, making continuous mobile services too expensive for many Syrians.
Operators did extend the validity period of the cheapest card to 15 days, but the restriction remained a source of annoyance to mobile users.
Kuwaiti operator Zain expressed some interest in the new licence, according to Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai. The newspaper quoted sources within Zain as saying: “Zain is waiting for Syria’s government, which announced the opening of a bid for a third operating telecom … to issue the terms and conditions required for applying and attaining the license.” Syria telecoms
In 2009, Zain held talks to buy Syriatel, but the talks were postponed for unrevealed reasons.