Thursday, October 15, 2009

Etisalat - 19th biggest telecom service provider

Forward Today Etisalat - 19th biggest telecom service provider
Etisalat becomes worlds 19th biggest telecom service provide:

The number of etisalat subscribers around the world has crossed 85 million and the company is focused on raising the bar closer to 100 million, Mohammad Hassan Omran, chairman of etisalat, told Gulf News.

Abu Dhabi: The number of etisalat subscribers around the world has crossed 85 million and the company is focused on raising the bar closer to 100 million, a top etisalat executive said.

In an exclusive interview, Mohammad Hassan Omran, chairman of etisalat, told Gulf News that etisalat's contributions to the government budget since its inception have reached Dh52 billion, and its share last year was Dh9.6 billion.

Omran said 95 per cent of higher positions in the organisational structure have been filled in line with Emiratisation goals and the company is striving to raise the Emiratisation level in technical posts to 60 per cent over the coming years.

"Etisalat is currently introducing new technologies including the all-in-one cable for landline, internet and high-definition television," he said.

In the interview, Omran spoke at length of his company's current and future plans. Excerpts:

GULF NEWS: What is the future strategy of etisalat?

HASSAN OMRAN: The future strategy is based on expanding in global markets. Etisalat is proud to have 85 million subscribers now and is planning to increase the number to 100 million by next year.

What about etisalat's contributions to the government since it was set up?

Etisalat was established in 1976 with a capital of Dh100 million, out of which the government put in Dh60 million while Dh40 million was contributed by the two foreign companies managing etisalat both technically and administratively.

Ever since it was set up, etisalat was keen to have a real partnership with the government based on exchange of benefits. The company focused on investment in human resources to create national cadres through managing the largest Emiratisation project in the history of the UAE.

Its other contribution was providing financial support to the federal budget through a set share of the company's income.

How substantial has been the fin-ancial contribution?

Since etisalat was set up and until the end of the last fiscal year, the company contributed Dh52 billion to the federal budget. The figures have gone up over the past few years, reaching Dh30 billion in the last five years alone. Last year, etisalat contributed Dh9.6 billion out of the Dh40-billion federal budget, which means etisalat's contribution was almost a quarter of the country's budget.

What are the Emiratisation strategies followed by etisalat?

Since its establishment, etisalat focused on creating Emirati cadres in both administrative and technical fields. Besides the foreign scholarships sponsored by the company for distinguished high-school graduates, it also established the Etisalat College to prepare young Emiratis. The college has now become part of the Khalifa University for Technology and Research.

Today, etisalat is proud that it had raised the rate of Emiratisation in leadership positions to 95 per cent, while the overall Emiratisation rate in the company, except for technicians, reached 40 to 45 per cent of workers.

We also have plans to Emiratise technical positions, in which Emiratisation currently stands at 30 per cent of total technicians, but we hope to bring it up to more than 60 per cent in the next five years.

Did you face any difficulties in foreign markets?

We have faced a problem with increasing the number of subscribers in the Saudi market. Although we have about 10 million subscribers for mobile phone services, we still have tens of thousands of applicants on the waiting list.

Over 60,000 applicants wanted to subscribe but could not, due to reasons out of our control.

For example, transferring a subscriber's number to another operator takes only 24 hours in Hong Kong, but it can take two to three months in Saudi Arabia.

Where is etisalat's position on the regional and international maps?

Etisalat currently has a strong presence in the Middle East's largest three economies, namely Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE.

In Saudi Arabia, etisalat spent $3.5 billion (Dh12.8 billion) to set up the ‘Mobili' network, and today we are the kingdom's second biggest operator with about 15 million subscribers.

In Egypt, we have about 10 million subscribers and cover about 98 per cent of the country's total area. We were supposed to finish the five stages of network expansion in five years, but managed to do so in two years, during which we set up 4,600 transmission enhancement stations.

In short, we are the second biggest operator in Saudi Arabia, the fourth in Egypt and the eighth in India.

We are still expanding abroad, and our goals are based on available investment opportunities and the ease of obtaining licences from governments, population, market and consumers' buying capability, as well as the infrastructure provided by the country we want to invest in. We are currently negotiating with Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Libya to enter their markets.

Where does etisalat stand at the local level?

We have about seven million subscribers in our mobile network in the UAE, which shows the progress achieved in the past four decades. I don't want to talk about the company's position in the UAE, but would like to mention that when we first introduced mobile phone services to the UAE in 1982, we had a network of 5,000 lines, and we thought that would suffice for the UAE at least for the next five years. However, as we realised, we needed to double that number in less than six months!

Today, etisalat is ranked 19th among service providers around the world.

What are the services etisalat will provide in the future?

The most important service currently being introduced for subscribers in the UAE is the fibre-optics service, which is an all-in-one service, through which we can provide phone, internet, fax, electronic games and cable television through one cable.

We started connecting this service to houses and villas after completing the connections to buildings and apartments. We expect 90 per cent of homes and residences in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain to have this service by the end of 2011.

This will enable many services such as high-definition television feed, as well as electronic games and internet shopping.

Growing stature: Best practice

- Etisalat's foreign investments exceed Dh40 billion.

- Etisalat currently operates in 17 countries.

- Companies managed by etisalat have more than 85 million subscribers, while more than 1.6 billion people are covered by etisalat operations.

- Mobily, an etisalat arm, surpassed international performance indexes and took over 15 million subscribers in the Saudi market.

- Etisalat Egypt exceeded its own time-bound plan, reaching more than 10 million subscribers in two-and-a-half years.

- Etisalat has a working strategy in line with the world's best investment practices.

Emiratisation focus:

The company achieved positive results in Emiratisation and is now the largest national establishment providing jobs for UAE citizens.

The number of Emirati employees reached 3,600 at the end of the first half of 2009, a total of 36 per cent of its employees.

Emirati senior employees account for 75 per cent of all senior employees, and 95 per cent of the establishment's higher executives are Emiratis.

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