Iraqna, MTC Atheer merge into Zain
Iraq's two successful mobile telephone network operators MTC Atheer and Iraqna have merged into Zain In Iraq to serve nearly 7.5 millions customers all over the country.
"Today marks the launch of Zain In Iraq, which includes two of the most influential telecommunications companies in new Iraq: Iraqna and MTC Atheer," the general and executive director of the newly merged company, Ali al-Dahouy, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
"Zain In Iraq has thus become the second largest company in Zain group, which operates in 22 countries in the Middle East and Africa," al-Dahouy said during a Baghdad-based press conference, explaining that there are 7.5 million subscribers to the company, compared to 11 million in Nigeria.
"The merge has established the most powerful mobile telephone operator in Iraq and the Middle East. It gives a drive to the Iraqi economy," the director noted.
"The group looks forward to establishing a single network covering all Arab countries, a project which is scheduled to finish by this summer," according to al-Dahouy.
Zain Group said in a statement that its area of operation include several countries in the Middle East: Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain and Sudan as Zain; in Iraq as MTC Atheer; in Lebanon as MTC Touch; and in 14 sub-Saharan countries in Africa as Celtel.
AsiaCell, Korek Telecom and MTC Atheer were the three winners in the mobile phone license auction held by the Iraqi government in the Jordanian capital Amman in August 2007.
Mobile phone services were first launched in Iraq in early 2004 following the collapse of the former Iraqi regime and the Cairo-based Orascom Telecom Holdings, Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co and AsiaCell were the winners in an auction that drew 35 bidders. Under the then contracts, Orascom's network covered central Iraq, including Baghdad, AsiaCell served northern Iraq, while Atheer Tel (from Kuwait) operated in the south.
There are eight million mobile subscribers in Iraq which has 26 million inhabitants.
The fixed phone lines network was damaged because of sanctions imposed on the country after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Less than 4 percent of the Iraqi people have fixed phone lines.