Ivory Coast’s smaller mobile operators have licenses revoked
During the last few years Cote d’Ivoire has benefited from strong economic growth, with GDP having grown by 9.8% in 2012 before slowing to 8% in 2013 and an expected 8.2% for 2014.
Although it has two competing fixed network operators, the country's telecommunications sector is dominated by mobile telephony, with South Africa’s MTN and France’s Orange leading the market. The launch of three additional ore GSM networks between 2006 and 2008 – Moov (owned by Etisalat of the UAE until it was sold to Maroc Telecom in May 2014), KoZ (operated by the Lebanese Comium Group) and Oricel Green Network (backed by Libya’s LAP Green) – has accelerated market growth and pushed mobile penetration well above the African average. Two additional operators have been licensed and are preparing to enter the market, but problems with frequency spectrum allocation have caused continuing delays. Some consolidation can be expected in this crowded market in the future.
The internet and broadband sectors have remained underdeveloped. This is partly the legacy result of high international bandwidth costs caused by the incumbent having monopoly access to the only international fibre optic submarine cable serving the country. This was addressed in recent years, with the landing of a second cable in November 2011 and with up to three more cables expected to land in the near future. Significant reductions in retail pricing for some of the existing ADSL, WiMAX and EV-DO wireless broadband services can already be observed.
The biggest game changer, however, has been the introduction of 3G mobile services. Following years of delays, the first 3G licence was finally awarded in March 2012 and the first 3.5G mobile broadband service has been launched, offering up to 42Mb/s using HSPA+ technology. The extensive geographical reach of the mobile networks will now make the internet accessible to a much wider part of the population. With a national backbone network including more than 20,000km of fibre optic cable, Cote d'Ivoire is in a good position to translate these improvements in competition and infrastructure into a booming broadband market and digital economy.
Further changes are expected into 2015 following the commercial launch of LTE services from Orange and VipNet, which will see a significant increase in mobile broadband availability. In addition, the regulator planned not to renew the licence held by Cafe Mobile as it proceeds with the forced merger of smaller operators in a bid to improve poor quality of service for subscribers.
Estimated market penetration rates in Cote d’Ivoire’s telecoms sector – end-2015 (e)
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
- Regulator withdraws mobile licenses of four operators;
- GreenN affected by consolidation of LAP Green investment portfolio;
- Government prepares plans to merge small mobile operators and sell them off as a single company;
- Ivoire IP proposes 100Mb/s FttP service via a geographic franchise system;
- Globacom makes $600 million bid to acquire Comium Cote d’Ivoire;
- Orange Cote d’Ivoire and Airtel Burkina Faso open up mobile money transfer service;
- Government encourages merger between smaller mobile service providers;
- MTN Ivory Coast to invest XOF120 billion to upgrade its network through to 2017;
- VipNet launches TD-LTE service;
- Etisalat sells its Moov branded businesses to Maroc Telecom for $650 million;
- Continuing high GDP growth to sustain telecom sector revenue into 2015;
- Competition in international bandwidth market leading to lower broadband prices;
- 3G licences awarded, first HSPA+ mobile broadband service launched;
- MTN commissions a second data centre;
- WiMAX operator YooMee begins deploying an LTE network;
- Government increases tax on telcos to 30%;
- SIM card registration ordered to be processed again following large scale fraud;
- Report update includes regulator’s market data to Q4 2015, telcos’ operating data to Q4 2015, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Cote d’Ivoire Telecom (CI-Telecom), MTN CI, Arobase Telecom, Orange CI (France Telecom), Comium CI (KoZ), Etisalat (Moov), LapGreen (Green Network, GreenN, Oricel), Warid Telecom, Globacom, CORA de Comstar, Aircomm CI, Mainstreet Technologies, Africa Online, AfNet, Aviso, Globe Access Internet (Omnes), Intel Afrique, Solaris Telecom, Africom, Afripa Telecom (Atlantique Telecom), Comete, Globe Access, Monicash.