Frozen Libyan-owned assets re-enter the telecoms market
This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Rwanda’s telecommunications market. Subjects covered include:
- One of the fastest growing mobile markets in Africa;
- Key statistics;
- Market and industry overviews;
- Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
- Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
- Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
- Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
- Infrastructure development;
- Mobile voice and data markets, including 3G;
- Internet development and pricing;
- Broadband, including 3G mobile;
- Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile);
- Average revenue per user (ARPU).
The aftermath of the 1994 genocide and a monopolistic market structure until 2006 have weighed on the Rwandan telecommunications sector, but the country is now rapidly catching up with other markets in Africa.
Mobile market penetration is still significantly below the regional average. The country has been slow to liberalise the sector, allowing South Africa’s MTN a monopoly until 2006 when the fixed-line incumbent, Rwandatel became the second mobile operator. The launch of a third network (Millicom/Tigo) in 2009 sparked a new subscriber growth phase, but the average revenue per user has more than halved since then.
Rwandatel's mobile licence was cancelled in 2011 and its Libyan-owned assets frozen under a UN resolution, to be sold in 2012. Bharti Airtel of India was licensed as the country's new third mobile network, and a fourth operator may be licensed in the future.
Third-generation mobile services have been launched, providing an opportunity for operators to improve ARPU by offering broadband services. Rwanda’s internet and broadband sector has suffered from limited fixed-line infrastructure and high prices, but developments in the fixed network market are beginning to change this. The operators are rolling out national fibre-optic backbone networks which also allow them to connect to the international submarine fibre-optic cables that landed on the African east coast in 2009 and 2010. These cables have given the entire region fibre-based international bandwidth for the first time and brought to an end its dependency on satellites.
The price for international internet bandwidth is expected to fall to a fraction of the current level. Several ISPs are rolling out WiMAX wireless broadband networks. They have adopted VoIP internet telephony although the technology has not yet been officially deregulated, which potentially turns them into converged fixed-wireless voice and data/broadband service providers.
Rwanda is also a key partner in the One Laptop per Child project and has a major e-government program.
This report contains an overview and analysis of Rwanda’s telecommunications market, profiles of the major players in all market sectors, relevant statistics and analysis, and scenario forecasts to 2013 and 2016 for the country’s mobile market.
- Rwandatel's Libyan-owned assets to be sold in 2012;
- New third mobile network to enter the market;
- Possible licensing of a fourth mobile operator;
- Mobile subscriber growth above regional average;
- Average revenue per user (ARPU) reaches new lows;
- Profiles of major players in all market sectors;
- Mobile market forecasts to 2013 and 2016.
Estimated market penetration rates in Rwanda’s telecoms sector – end 2012
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Companies covered in this report:
- Rwandatel (Terracom, LapGreen);
- MTN Rwanda;
- Millicom (Tigo);
- Bharti Airtel;
- Artel Communications;