Orascom Telecom

NYTimes writes about the Edgyptian mobile oeprator that’s expanding rapidly (and recently bought a 20% stake in Hutch:

From an office on the 26th floor of his family’s gold-domed twin towers overlooking the Nile, Naguib Sawiris, chief executive of Orascom Telecom, scans the world for opportunities to expand his telecommunications empire. He tends to find them in places others fear to tread…The company has a subscriber base of 30 million people in Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, among other countries. Those countries represent a market of 460 million people, but on average only 11.5 percent of them have mobile phones.

Though the strategy of investing in emerging markets is risky, other companies have taken the same path as Orascom. “Those countries have more resources than you read, because of the gray economy and the cash economy,” said Azmi T. Mikati, chief executive of Investcom Holding, a mobile communications provider that operates in countries like Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan. “These countries are not as poor or as dangerous as they are portrayed.”

Mr. Sawiris says that people do not fully understand the needs of his customers. “Whether poor or rich, people still need to communicate,” he said.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.