3G mobile licences finally awarded, fibre network to boost broadband market
This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in DRC’s telecommunications market. Subjects covered in this half-yearly update include:
- Key statistics;
- Market and industry overviews;
- Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
- Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
- Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
- Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
- Infrastructure development;
- Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile);
- Internet and broadband development and growth;
- Mobile data services, including 3G;
- Average Revenue per User (ARPU).
Following a 30-year dictatorship between 1967 and 1997, the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) has been through two wars and is still seeing violent conflicts in the eastern part of the country. The economy of this third largest country in Africa relies heavily on mining. However, much economic activity occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data. The global economic crisis reduced GDP growth to around 3% in 2009, but it returned to 7% in 2010 and is expected to remain stable at that level in the coming years.
As a result of the country's past, the national telecom system is one of the least developed in the region. The national operator, OCPT theoretically has monopoly rights under 1970 legislation. However, recognising the need for telecommunications infrastructure, the government is only loosely regulating the sector.
Mobile networks have taken over as the providers of basic telecom services. By 2001, some 16 private operators had been granted mobile telephony licences and the subscriber base was growing at triple digit rates per year. However, the proliferation of networks also caused frequency spectrum shortages, interference and compatibility problems. As a result, the mobile sector has consolidated and now has four major players: Vodacom Congo, Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain/Celtel), Millicom (Tigo) and Congo Chine Telecom (CCT) in which OCPT held 49% until the company was sold to France Telecom/Orange in 2011.
Development of the DRC's internet and broadband market has been held back by the poorly developed national and international infrastructure. However, the country is finally set to gain access to low-cost, high-quality international bandwidth through a submarine fibre optic cable in 2012, and OCPT is rolling out a fibre optic national backbone network with support from China. Broadband services are currently provided by relatively small wireless networks using WiMAX and EV-DO technology, but the recent award of 3G mobile licences will see the mobile operators start playing a leading role in this sector as well.
- Four 3G mobile licences awarded;
- Access to international fibre bandwidth expected in 2012;
- National fibre backbone rollout.
Estimated market penetration rates in the DRC’s telecoms sector – end 2012
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Companies covered in this report:
Vodacom Congo, Bharti Airtel (Zain, Celtel), Millicom (Tigo), Congo Chine Telecom (CCT, France Telecom Orange), Africell (Lintel), Office Congolais des Postes et des Télécommunications (OCPT), Tatem Telecom, Gecamines, AfriTel (Starcel), Telecel International, Africanus.net, Interconnect (Vodanet), Microcom, Cielux Telecom, Global Broadband Solution (GBS), Afrinet, Congo Korea Telecom, Geolink, ICP Net, Orioncom, Paconet (Pan African Communication Network), RagaNet, Roffe Hi-Tech, Sattel, Societe Internet Congolaise (SIC), Sogetel.