Roshan wins Afghan 3G licence

24 September 2012 |


Afghan wireless market leader Roshan has been issued a 3G licence by the country’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and is planning a commercial roll-out of services later this year.

Minister Amir Zai Sangin and other dignitaries from the MCIT confirmed the licence at a signing ceremony in the capital, Kabul.

The licence is the third to be awarded in the country and will place Roshan in competition for 3G subscribers with the local subsidiaries of Etisalat and MTN.

"We are delighted to introduce 3G technology to Roshan's six million and counting customers, expanding access to data-rich products and converged solutions to meet their needs," said Karim Khoja, CEO of Roshan at the ceremony.

"Not only does the licence further bolster Roshan's robust and high-performing data services, but it also complements our existing state-of-the-art network that currently offers the widest, most reliable and highest quality coverage across all of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.”

Roshan leads the Afghan wireless market having been awarded a GSM licence in 2003. The company had 32.9% wireless subscriber market share in June 2012, according to TeleGeography.

MTN Afghanistan stands in second place with 26.6% market share, followed by Afghan Wireless Communications Company with 21.6% and Etisalat Afghanistan with 19%, over the same period.

Afghanistan’s wireless sector still has significant potential for growth, with penetration only standing at 62.6% in June, according to research firm TeleGeography.

Naturally this has made it attractive for foreign investors with Roshan itself the product of an investment group.

Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) is the company’s largest stakeholder with 51%, while Cable & Wireless Communications holds a 36.75% stake via its Monaco Telecom subsidiary. Nordic carrier TeliaSonera also holds a 12.25% stake through its 2007 acquisition of MCT Corp.

The country’s extremely limited fixed infrastructure means that mobile subscribers, at an estimated 19.4 million, dwarf broadband and fixed subscribers at 5,500 and 214,699 respectively.

"3G technology is vital for the economic growth and development of Afghanistan in a host of different sectors – from education to health to commerce," said Minister Sangin. "In awarding this licence to Roshan, we are embracing the mobile broadband revolution, expanding the country's data services and enhancing capacity, aimed at improving the lives of Afghans as they connect with each other and the rest of the world."