Mobile Phone Politics in Sudan
the companies and relation with state and civil society
African Studies Center, Leiden
Hisham Bilal
PhD Candidate (Sociology)
Middle East Technical University METU
[email protected]
 Introduction: Focus and Scope, Methodology,
Sudan and ‘instabilities’.
 Important dates and brief history.
 Morphology of mobile phone sector in Sudan
 Mobile phone ‘instabilities’
 MPCs and civil society
 MPCs in crisis areas
 To conclude: departing points
Focus and scope:
The focus of this presentation will be on
two points:
 The growing telecommunication
sector and ‘instabilities’ in Sudan: the
political conflicts, civil wars and
economical sanctions.
 Monopoly Vs polarization: the
companies struggle to survive and
develop their business.
 The main sources of data:
1. Observation
2. News papers
3. Online interviews
4. Companies reports and web sites
Sudan: a case of instability
 The country formed in its ‘modern’ shape during
the 19th century.
Sudan has wide range of diversity in; ethnic
groups, languages and cultures, religion..etc
Witnessed the ‘longest’ civil war in Africa started
1954 and led to separation of South Sudan in 2011.
Political instability: three periods of ‘democratic’
multi parties system (total of 10 years) and three
periods of military systems (total of 46 years).
Economical instability: poor infrastructure,
unstable principles, degraded resources…
Important dates and brief history I
 1859: the first time for telecommunication in
Sudan, Wire line to Sawakin.
 1903: introduction of telecommunication to
the public when service been available for
individuals and institutions on commercial
 1914: introduction of wireless
Important dates and brief history II
 1993: within the privatization fever the
“Wired and Wireless Communication
Corporation’ sold out and the Sudanese
Company of Telecommunication SudaTel
established. By the end of the same years the
number of subscribers reached 42,000.
Important dates and brief history III
 1997: MobiTel; the first mobile phone
network/operator in Sudan.
 1998: SudaNet: the introduction of internet
service for the first time.
 2003: the second mobile phone operator
 2004: the second fixed telephone operator
Important dates and brief history IV
 2005: CDMA settlement
 2006: SudaTel sold MobiTel and established
 2006: a. VivaCell covering wide parts of
‘South Sudan’
b. MobiTel sold out and renamed ZAIN
c. AREEBA sold out and renamed MTN
 2008: Canar operating its mobile phone
network in ‘South Sudan’
The Morphology of Mobile Phone Sector
 The Governmental bodies:
1. The Minstry of Communication and
Information Technologiy:
2. The National Communication Authority:
The Morphology of Mobile Phone Sector
 The Companies:
Mobile Phone ‘instabilities’
 Instable state policies and lake of efficiency
 Doubts about mobile phone companies
 Growing number of subscribers Vs limited
 Companies inter-conflict.
MPCs and Civil Society Organizations
 Different kinds of support provided by MPCs
to societies.
 Rising value of Social Responsibility
 Companies reflecting different interests
 Supporting cultural activities
 The question of development and expected
Mobile phone and crisis areas
 Sudan has a long history of civil war that
took place in the South since 1955 and still
running between the two separated
countries of Sudan.
 The new rising armed conflict areas:
Darfur; as a development of ArabAfrican/farmers-pastoral conflicts since 1980’s
and now the ‘rebel’ groups.
2. South Kordofan and Blue Nile: the ignorant areas
of CPA of 2005 and SPLM/NS armed ‘rebellion’.
Mobile phone and crisis areas
 In spite of the importance of the mobile phone
telecommunication in such crisis, but the mobile
companies are not welcomed at these areas
because of doubts about them due to several
reasons among them:
1. Unjustified and Unwarranted interruption in
network services.
2. Different cases of murdering supported by
remote chasing !
In addition to the high risk of holding a mobile
phone in public! (robbery)
Departing points
 Weakness of ‘liaising’ bodies and their
‘fungal proliferation’
 The high competition led to ‘unfair play
 The need to rebuild relations with society on
new bases.
dank u
Thank You
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Mobile Phone Politics in Sudan the companies and relation with