By John Lee.
French-based telecommunications company Orange has said that it expects rapid customer and revenue growth in Iraq, where it took a 20 percent stake in mobile operator Korek two years ago.
Marc Rennard (pictured), the company's executive vice president for Africa, the Middle East and Asia, told Reuters:
"We have just reached five million customers two weeks ago (in Iraq), so business is booming and we are now working on the next step that will be the 3G licence ... It depends on the government and regulatory authorities but we hope it will be beginning of 2014 ...
"We don't want to publish our objectives for next year or the year after, but there is still room for huge growth in Iraq in terms of number of customers and also in terms of revenues ...
"In Iraq two years ago it was less than 2 million customers, so we got this dramatic increase from the south and part of it from the north ...
"In the future, if you project 10 years it will be probably one of the most important countries in the Orange group. It will be close to Egypt."
Mobile telephone penetration is relatively high at around 78 percent of Iraq's population of 33 million, but only about 2 percent has access to broadband, analysts say.
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