Given its high population density and the low penetration rates across all telecom sectors, Burundi remains one of the most attractive telecom markets in Africa for investors. Nevertheless, investor reticence is still evident given the country’s low economic output and the fact that outside the main urban areas fixed-line infrastructure remains poor. To overcome these difficulties, the government, supported by the Word Bank, has backed a joint venture with a number of prominent telcos to build a national fibre backbone network, offering onward connectivity to submarine cable infrastructure landings in Kenya and Tanzania. The first sections of this network were switched on in early 2014, and additional provinces have since been connected. In addition, the government in early 2018 kick-started the Burundi Broadband project, which aims to deliver national connectivity by 2025.
International bandwidth increased almost five-fold between 2014 and the end of 2017, resulting in lower retail prices for consumers. There have also been efforts to encourage the country’s ISPs to join the national IXP in a bid to cannel internet traffic locally and thus reduce the cost of providing services to end-users.
Two of the mobile operators have launched 3G and LTE mobile services to capitalise on the growing demand for internet access. The number of mobile subscribers grew rapidly for several years, and though this slowed in 2016 there are now about six million subscribers. Mobile penetration, at 50%, remains low by regional standards, suggesting considerable room for further growth. A new player, Viettel Group, which received a licence to provide mobile services in early 2014, launched 2G and 3G services in June 2015 and LTE services in February 2016. It soon became the leading player in the country, with an extensive fibre-backhaul network which it can use to provide fixed-line services.
The long-established plans to privatise the national telco Onatel (which also operates one of the mobile networks), have been delayed several times, but the government since 2013 has made efforts to kick-start the process.
Office National des Telecommunications (Onatel, Onamob); U-Com (Orascom, Telecel Globe, Leo); VTEL Holdings (Tempo, Africell Safaris); Econet Wireless Burundi (Spacetel); LaCell SU (Smart Burundi); Renaissance Capital; BNP Paribas; Millenium Finance; Linkstone Capital.
Companies (Major Players)
Mobile & Wireless Broadband and Media
Mobile Communications (voice and infrastructure)
Regulations & Government Policies
Strategies & Analyses (Industry & Markets)
Number of pages 22
Last updated 9 Feb 2018
Lead Analyst: Henry Lancaster
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