KUWAIT: Zain Group, the leading mobile telecom innovator across the Middle East and Africa announces that its mobile operation Zain Saudi Arabia has received a 15 Hijri year extension on its operating license that was originally granted in March 2008 for 25 Hijri years and, following the extension, will now expire in January 2047. This follows a notification from the Kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission, (CITC).
CITC will also migrate Zain Saudi Arabia to a unified telecommunication license that supports both service-neutrality and technology neutrality, allowing the company to provide all telecommunication services using appropriate technologies within Zain KSA’s approved frequency bands. In addition, the CITC has allowed other Saudi-licensed telecom companies to obtain the same unified license.
A condition of the 15 Hijri year license extension will result in the KSA government’s additional entitlement of 5 percent of Zain Saudi Arabia’s annual net income throughout the extension period. The overall financial impact of the extension is expected to benefit Zain KSA’s annual amortization by approximately SAR 433 million ($115 million) per annum.
Commenting on this milestone, Bader Al-Kharafi, Zain Group Vice-Chairman and Zain Saudi Arabia Vice-Chairman said: “We are sincerely appreciative to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s telecommunications regulator, CITC, and other authorities in the Kingdom for their professionalism and diligence in the process of this license extension. The positive impact of this 15-year extension on the future sustainability and growth of Zain Saudi Arabia is enormous on multiple levels as it will allow us to invest more in network upgrades and expansion as we roll out to meet the ever increasing demand for vital telecommunications across the Kingdom.”
The Vice-Chairman added: “I would like to acknowledge both the Zain Group and Zain Saudi Board Members and executive teams who have been very active in seeking this license extension, and we are all very confident of the future prosperity of the operation in the Kingdom, for the benefit of all our stakeholders.”
Kharafi concluded: “The unified license will now enable fair competition in the mobile and fixed telecommunications services as it will allow operators to deploy fit-for-purpose and efficient technologies to meet market demand. The wisdom of the CITC’s decision in unifying this license is strong indication that it wishes to further develop the telecommunications sector, particularly in the fixed space for the benefit of the Kingdom.”
Since winning the license in 2007 in an auction bid and launching commercial services in the Kingdom in 2008, Zain Group has worked effortlessly with Zain Saudi Arabia in transforming the mobile operation that now serves 10.7 million customers. The operation’s heavy investment in its state-of-the-art 4G LTE network is paying off as it has resulted in an impressive 57 percent rise year-on-year in data revenues (excluding SMS & VAS), representing 31 percent of total revenues as of 30 June 2016.