Afghanistan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Afghanistan mobile market is back to growth

Afghanistan continues to be confronted by challenges. After many years of war and civil strife, an encouraging aspect of the country’s efforts to rebuild has been the considerable success evident in the creating of a functional telecommunications sector virtually from nothing. The telecommunications network now covers over 90% of the population.

Efforts are being made to roll out fixed-line services, but the country’s telecommunications services rely heavily on its mobile infrastructure.

Fixed-line broadband market penetration has not grown significantly over the last five years. Over the next five years to 2024 growth is expected to continue but overall market penetration will remain extremely low.

Afghanistan is making good progress on the roll-out of the government project for a nationwide optical fibre backbone. The work on the ‘Wakhan Corridor Fibre Optic Survey Project’ officially started with the first phase of a plan to install a cross-border fibre link connecting Afghanistan with China.

Afghanistan’s mobile market experienced reasonably strong growth between 2012 and 2017 but faced a serious slowdown in 2018, with the number of subscribers falling 8% year-on-year. This was partly due to increasing violence in the country (creating population displacement as well as damage to infrastructure), and also to a downturn in the regional economy. However, there were positive signs of recovery in 2019, with slow growth despite the uncertainty created by the presidential election. Overall, the mobile market has experienced reasonable growth since 2014, with mobile penetration rising from 55% in 2014 to 60% in 2019 and the number of subscribers reaching 22.9 million.

Further moderate growth is predicted over the next five years (through to 2024), though this assumes stable governance and an improving economic environment. Subscriber penetration is expected to reach 69% by 2024, with the market estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5% between 2019 and 2024.

Afghanistan has seen a strong increase in mobile broadband penetration over the past five years, with penetration reaching to 22% in 2019 compared to only 1% in 2013. The sector is still at an early stage of development and penetration remains relatively low compared to other Asian nations, though stronger growth is anticipated over the next five years in line with operator investments in 4G and increased competition among operators encouraging lower pricing for end-users and improved service offerings. Mobile broadband penetration could reach 35% by 2024, with a subscriber base of 14.8 million. A CAGR of 12% is forecast between 2019 and 2024.

Key developments:

  • The MCIT officially launched the 'Wakhan Corridor Fibre Optic Survey Project'.
  • Afghanistan is making good progress on the roll-out of a nationwide optical fibre backbone.
  • Afghanistan's mobile market has experienced reasonably strong growth.
  • The mobile broadband market is being driven by a rising level of mobile subscribers and strong competition.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Afghan Telecom/Aftel/Salam Telecom/Networks, Afghan Wireless Communications Company/AWCC, Roshan/ Telecom Development Company Afghanistan Ltd (TDCA), Etisalat Afghanistan, MTN Afghanistan, Wasel Telecom.

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

    • Background
    • Economy
  • Telecommunications market

    • Market Overview and Analysis
    • Regional Market Comparison
    • Historical background
  • Regulatory environment

    • Overview
    • Regulatory authorities
      • Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA)
      • Minister of Communications and Information Technology
    • Framework for emergency telecoms systems
    • Spectrum
    • Number Portability (NP)
    • Access
    • Mobile
    • Digital Media
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • Fixed-line Statistics
    • Optical fibre Backbone
    • IP infrastructure
    • Rural Access
      • Telecommunication Development Fund (TDF)
      • Remote Village
    • Microwave ring
    • International infrastructure
      • Satellite services
    • Cloud Computing
  • Fixed network operators

    • Overview
    • Afghan Telecom
    • Other operators
      • Afghan Wireless Communications Co (AWCC)
      • Wasel Telecom
    • Other licences
  • Broadband Statistics and Forecasts

    • Internet Service Providers (Isp)
    • WiMAX
    • WiFi hotspots
    • Internet cafes
  • Mobile communications

    • Introduction
    • Mobile statistics And Forecasts
    • Mobile Broadband Statistics and Forecasts
    • Mobile infrastructure
      • Introduction
      • Third Generation (3G)
      • 4G / LTE
    • Mobile data services
      • Mobile banking and m-money
      • Roshan’s Malomat service
    • Mobile Satellite
  • Mobile operators

    • Operator Statistics
    • Afghan Wireless (AWCC)
    • Roshan
    • MTN Afghanistan
    • Etisalat Afghanistan
    • Salam Telecom (Aftel)
    • Wasel Telecom
  • Digital economy

    • e-Commerce
    • e-Government
    • e-Health
    • e-Education
    • e-Banking
    • Afghanistan National Data Centre (Andc)
  • Digital Media

    • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
    • Broadcasting market
      • Overview
      • Digitalisation
      • National broadcasters
      • Cable TV
  • Related reports


List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Country Statistics, Major Operators and Telco Authorities – 2019 (e)
  • Table 2 – Top Level Country Statistics – 2019 (e)
  • Table 3 – Fixed Line Subscriptions and Penetration – 2009– 2019
  • Table 4 – Afghan Telecom - wireline and wireless subscribers – 2012; 2014 – 2016
  • Table 5 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2008 – 2024
  • Table 6 – Internet Penetration – 2009 - 2019
  • Table 7 – International internet bandwidth – 2005 – 2018
  • Table 8 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2007 – 2024
  • Table 9 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2013 – 2024
  • Table 10 – Mobile subscribers by category –2019
  • Table 11 – 3G mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2013 – 2019
  • Table 12 – Percentage of Population Covered by Type of Mobile Network 2019 (e)
  • Table 13 – Mobile operator and systems
  • Table 14 – Subscribers and Market share by Major Operators – 2019
  • Table 15 – Historic - ARPU by operator – 2008 – 2012
  • Table 16 – AWCC’s mobile subscribers – 2005 – 2019
  • Table 17 – Roshan’s mobile subscribers – 2005 – 2019
  • Table 18 – MTN’s mobile subscribers – 2007 – 2019
  • Table 19 – MTN’s ARPU – 2011 – 2019
  • Table 20 – Etisalat’s mobile subscribers – 2007 – 2019
  • Table 21 – Key broadcasting statistics – 2018

List of Charts

  • Chart 1 – Mobile, Mobile Broadband & Fixed Broadband Penetration – 2019; 2024
  • Chart 2 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index by Market Category
  • Chart 3 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index – Central Asia
  • Chart 4 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita
  • Chart 5 – Fixed Broadband vs Mobile Penetration - Central Asia (selected countries)
  • Chart 6 – Fixed Line Subscriptions and Penetration – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 7 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 8 – Internet users and Penetration (%) – 2009 - 2019
  • Chart 9 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 10 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2013 – 2024

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit 1 – Key Market Characteristics by Market Segment
  • Exhibit 2 – Central Asia -Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country
  • Exhibit 3 – Licensed ISPs – 2019
  • Exhibit 4 – Awarding of 3G licences – by operator and date
  • Exhibit 5 – Launch of 3G services – by operator and date

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