Democratic Republic of Congo - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

DRC to see 750 mobile towers set up in rural areas

The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) was under a 30-year dictatorship between 1967 and 1997. Since then the country has suffered from several wars and considerable social upheaval. There remain violent conflicts in the eastern part of the country, exacerbated by considerable corruption within the government as well as by ethnic tensions resulting from disputes among and within bordering countries which have spilled over in the DRC itself. These circumstances have made it difficult for the government to extend its control in these regions.

The economy is heavily dependent on revenue from the mining sector though much economic activity occurs informally and is not reflected in GDP data. The global economic crisis reduced GDP growth to around 3% in 2009, but it grew steadily in subsequent years, peaking at 9.5% in 2014. Since then, though, GDP has fallen to just over 2%, a decline largely caused by the turbulent security situation. It is expected to remain stable at this level for the next two to three years, largely supported by mining, though the accuracy of monitored economic growth continues to be questionable.

Largely due to the country’s troubled history, the national telecom system remains one of the least developed in the region. The national operator, SCPT, theoretically has monopoly rights under 1970 legislation. However, recognising the need for telecommunications infrastructure, the government is only loosely regulating the sector. SCPT has little capital to invest, and so much of the investment in infrastructure is from donor countries or from the efforts of foreign (particularly Chinese) companies and banks.

Mobile network operators are the principal providers of basic telecom services. By 2001 some 16 private operators had been granted mobile telephony licences and the subscriber base grew rapidly. The proliferation of networks, and the poor monitoring of also spectrum assets, caused frequent problems with spectrum shortages, interference and compatibility issues. As a result, the mobile sector has since consolidated. In the latest round of consolidation, Orange Congo completed its acquisition of Tigo Congo in April 2016, which greatly increased its market share. Yozma Timeturns, which had been awarded a mobile licence in 2009, risks having its licence revoked for having failed to launch services. The regulator is minded to reallocate the company’s spectrum to another operator in a bid to encourage market competition lost resulting from the merger of Orange Congo and Tigo Congo.

The development of the DRC’s internet and broadband market has been held back by the poorly developed national and international infrastructure. However, the country was finally connected to low-cost, high-quality international bandwidth through the WACS submarine fibre optic cable in 2013, and SCPT is rolling out a fibre optic national backbone network with support from China. International bandwidth is still limited, and as a result internet pricing is high and backhaul capacity (for both fixed and mobile internet services) is low. An alternative terrestrial international fibre connection exists via neighbouring countries. Broadband access is provided by 3G mobile services and wireless networks using WiMAX and EV-DO technology. The country’s first commercial LTE networks are imminent. Mobile operators are keen to develop mobile data services, capitalising on the growth of smartphones usage, but in mid-2016 their attempts to dramatically increase mobile internet pricing was criticised by the regulator.

Key developments:

  • European Investment Bank to finance the construction of 750 mobile towers in remote areas;
  • Incumbent telco SCPT seeking to quadruple fibre capacity from landing station to Kinshasa, addressing a key bottleneck;
  • Orange Group completes merger with Tigo DRC;
  • SCPT needing $4 million investment to close capacity bottleneck between Muanda landing station and Kinshasa;
  • Fibre link between Brazzaville and Kinshasa completed;
  • Regulator enforces deactivation of unregistered SIM cards;
  • Bharti Airtel considers exist from DRC market;
  • First LTE network set to launch following government consultations with wireless operators;
  • Report update includes operator data to Q1 2017, recent market developments.

Market penetration rates in the DRC’s telecoms sector – 2016 (e)

Penetration of telecoms services: Penetration
Fixed-line telephony 0.1%
Internet users 4.2%
Mobile SIM (population) 39.5%

Companies mentioned in this report:

Vodacom Congo, Bharti Airtel (Zain, Celtel), Millicom (Tigo), Congo Chine Telecom (CCT, Orange Congo), Africell (Lintel), Société Congolais des Postes et des Télécommunications (SCPT), Tatem Telecom, Gecamines, AfriTel (Starcel), Standard Telecom, 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, Société Internet Congolaise (SIC), Sogetel, Liquid Telecom, O3b Networks, Smile Telecom, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei Technologies, ZTE.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Historical overview
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Historical overview
    • 5.2 Regulatory authority
    • 5.3 Competition in the telecom sector
    • 5.4 Interconnection
    • 5.5 Privatisation
    • 5.6 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • 6. Fixed network operators
    • 6.1 SCPT (formerly OCPT)
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
    • 7.2 National backbone
    • 7.3 Tatem Telecom
    • 7.4 Other operators
    • 7.5 International infrastructure
      • 7.5.1 Satellite
      • 7.5.2 Submarine fibre
      • 7.5.3 Terrestrial fibre
      • 7.5.4 The Central African Backbone (CAB)
  • 8. Fixed-line broadband market
    • 8.1 Introduction and statistical overview
    • 8.2 Broadband statistics
    • 8.3 ISP market
    • 8.4 Internet exchange points (IXP)
    • 8.5 Internet satellite
  • 9. Mobile market
    • 9.1 Market analysis
    • 9.2 Mobile statistics
    • 9.3 Mobile data
      • 9.3.1 SMS
    • 9.4 Mobile broadband
    • 9.5 Regulatory issues
      • 9.5.1 Licence conditions, fees and taxes
      • 9.5.2 Quality of service (QoS)
      • 9.5.3 SIM card registration
    • 9.6 Mobile infrastructure
      • 9.6.1 Third generation (3G)
      • 9.6.2 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
      • 9.6.3 Other infrastructure developments
    • 9.7 Major mobile operators
      • 9.7.1 Vodacom Congo
      • 9.7.2 Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain, Celtel)
      • 9.7.3 Tigo (Millicom, Oasis)
      • 9.7.4 Orange (CCT)
      • 9.7.5 Africell
    • 9.8 Mobile content and applications
      • 9.8.1 m-banking
  • 10. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Democratic Republic of Congo – 2017 (e)
  • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2016 (e)
  • Table 3 – Internet provider statistics – 2017
  • Table 4 – Internet and social media user statistics – 2016 (e)
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2016
  • Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 7 – Telecom sector revenue – 2010 - 2015
  • Table 8 – Historic - Fixed telephone lines and teledensity in the DRC – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 9 – Fixed telephone lines and teledensity in the DRC – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 10 – International bandwidth – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 11 – International bandwidth per user – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 12 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate in the DRC – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 13 – Internet users and penetration rate in the DRC – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 14 – Fixed-line broadband subscribers in the DRC – 2013 - 2018
  • Table 15 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in the DRC – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 16 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in the DRC – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 17 – Major mobile operator launch dates in the DRC
  • Table 18 – Mobile market revenue – 2003 - 2015
  • Table 19 – SMS sent – 2009 - 2017
  • Table 20 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2012 - 2017
  • Table 21 – Vodacom Congo subscribers – 2002 - 2017
  • Table 22 – Vodacom Congo active data subscribers – 2014 - 2016
  • Table 23 – Vodacom Congo ARPU – 2003 - 2016
  • Table 24 – Vodacom Congo ARPU (ZAR) – 2012 - 2016
  • Table 25 – Vodacom Congo mobile revenue – 2016 - 2016
  • Table 26 – Airtel mobile subscribers – 2014 - 2015
  • Table 27 – Tigo subscribers – 2010 - 2015
  • Table 28 – Orange DRC subscribers – 2012 - 2017
  • Table 29 – Orange DRC revenue – 2013 - 2017
  • Table 30 – Africell mobile subscribers – 2014 - 2015
  • Chart 1 – Internet users and penetration rate in the DRC – 2005 - 2017
  • Chart 2 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2005 - 2018

Related Reports

Purchase this Report

US$750.00

Licence Information

Share this Report

Purchase with Confidence

I have both worked with Paul and valued his opinion on many occasions. Following, his many comments on the telecommunications industry has been rewarding and insightful. His reports have always been of value and help guide us through the maze of jargon, politics and defined the real road map of this complex industry.

David Hayes, Country Manager - Australia at Bulletin Wireless

Special Offers

Germany - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
US$575.00 until 4 Oct 2017
(normal price US$1,150.00)

Russia - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
US$575.00 until 4 Oct 2017
(normal price US$1,150.00)

Sample Reports

A selection of downloadable samples from our Annual Publications catalogue.


Download a Sample Report

More than 4,000 customers from 140 countries utilise BuddeComm Research

Are you interested in BuddeComm's Custom Research Service?

News & Views

Have the latest telecommunications industry news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to Paul's FREE weekly News & Views.