Interesting piece on the challenges facing Middle East telecoms in light of a recent study that forecasts average revenue per user (ARPU) in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia–regions where future market share lies–to drop by half by 2013.

For Middle East mobile telecom firms such as Zain, Qtel, STC and Etisalat, most of their recent growth has come from emerging markets with high population and relatively low rates of penetration, such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. But these operators are now challenged to boost profitability, as average revenue per user (ARPU) levels in such markets have been dramatically decreasing, because of increasing competition, price reductions, and a second wave of customers who are predominantly lower-income.

Much like uber-competition among German banks turned out to be a bad thing, one wonders if consolidation in the Arab telecom market will ultimately not only be inevitable, but also beneficial.

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