Etisalat and Zain see Moroccan affiliates fight it out over wholesale unbundling

26 March 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Moroccan companies backed by Etisalat and Zain are fighting a regulatory battle in Morocco over wholesale access to infrastructure.

Fixed and mobile operator Inwi, in which Zain has a 15.5% stake, has complained to the Moroccan regulator l’Agence Nationale de Réglementation des Télécommunications (ANRT) that rival operator Maroc Telecom is refusing to give access to its infrastructure. Maroc Telecom is controlled by Etisalat.

In an action filed through ANRT, Inwi is claiming compensation of $622 million because it says Maroc Telecom is not unbundling its broadband copper. ANRT has previously told Maroc Telecom to make access available to competitors.

Inwi has powerful support: the Moroccan royal family is the biggest shareholder, and the previous head of ANRT, Azzeddine El Mountassir Billah, supported wholesale access – until he was removed from office in late 2016.

According to the Reuters news agency, Maroc Telecom has 84% of the fixed line telephone market against Inwi’s 12.6%, though has only 48.9% of the internet access market against Inwi’s 23.5%.