ABU DHABI - Afghan telecoms group Roshan plans to invest up to $100 million in its home market this year and expects subscriber numbers to grow to 5.75 million as it expands into new areas.
Chief Executive Karim Khoja also said the company planned to offer third-generation (3G) services in the war-battered country and the roll-out was expected to start in the next six to 12 months.
"We invest between $50 to $100 million annually and we will invest from retained earnings," Khoja said in an interview at a telecoms conference in Abu Dhabi.
"We have sufficient cash flow now."
The telecom company — 51 percent owned by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, 36.75 percent by Cable & Wireless Communications and 12.25 percent by Swedish group TeliaSonera — is profitable, he said.
Roshan's subscriber base in the year ended March 2011 stood at 5 million and it is the top-ranked mobile operator in Afghanistan with a market share of 38 percent, he said. Rivals include UAE operator Etisalat and South Africa's MTN.
"Our subscribers are growing by an average 150,000 a month and our net active subscribers is expected to grow to 5.5 to 5.75 million by end of this year," said Khoja.
Roshan also operates in Tajikistan, commanding a 35 percent market share with 1.5 million subscribers, he said. It has also invested in an undersea cable from Egypt to South Africa.
Afghanistan has a population of 30 million but the telephone penetration is only 35 percent.
"There is still a huge potential for us and we are working to increase our market share," he said. (Reuters)