Lebanon telecom liberalisation called into doubt

Privatisation to be approved by new government
Peter Lyons, director of MENA at GSMA.
Peter Lyons, director of MENA at GSMA.

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Peter Lyons, director of MENA at GSMA, believes that “if someone is going to achieve the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector in Lebanon, it is going to be under Lebanon, Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb’s direction.”

During an interview with CommsMEA, Lyons said that the situation in Lebanon is “complicated”. “The current minister has a positive direction in mind, but there are other parts of the government that may want to resist liberalisation,” he commented.

Imad Y. Hoballah, Lebanon TRA CEO and chairman, commented to CommsMEA that any privatisation still awaits the election of a new president and the formation of a new government.
“It [new government] will approve a new telecom policy and the appointment of a new TRA board that will finalise the related regulations for the country,” he said.

Hoballah reiterated that in 2007 and 2008, the TRA, in co-ordination with the Higher Council for Privatisation, launched a privatisation process to sell the two mobile network assets together with two mobile licences for 20 years. “However, due to the financial crisis and the internal political situation, the process was stopped. The two mobile businesses remained as state-owned and privately managed by two international operators,” he added.

Reuters reported at the beginning of November that Lebanon’s parliament voted to extend its own mandate until 2017, citing security concerns linked to the civil war in neighbouring Syria.
Parliamentary elections were originally scheduled to take place in June 2013. The European Union has condemned the move as unconstitutional. 

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