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UK’s Vodafone plans to invest in Bangladesh

British mobile phone giant Vodafone plans to invest in Bangladesh’s booming telecommunications market, a news report said Wednesday, quoting officials.

The Financial Express daily reported that Gavin Darby, the company’s CEO for Asia, Africa and China, met Tuesday with M.A. Malek, who oversees the Ministry of Telecommunications. “Vodafone is interested to invest here. We are excited by the growth possibilities in Bangladesh,” Darby was quoted by the English-language daily as saying. Malek, who watches over the ministry as a special aide to the country’s interim leader Fakhruddin Ahmed, said Bangladesh would welcome investment by the company. “It is a good news,” the daily quoted Malek as saying.

The report said Vodafone company officials are planning to meet with officials of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to discuss their investment plan. Currently there are six mobile phone operators in Bangladesh, a nation of 145 million people. The BTRC said last week that cell phone users increased by 58% in 2007. The country added over one million subscribers a month last year, as the total number rose to 34.37 million from the previous year’s 21.77 million, the BTRC said. GrameenPhone, 62% owned by Norway’s Telenor, led with 16.48 million users, while Banglalink, a subsidiary of the Egyptian Orascom, scored second with 7.08 million subscribers. Market operators said the number of mobile phone users would reach more than 50 million by 2009. Government and Vodafone officials could not be immediately reached for comment. (Economic Times)