Gabon - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses
Cable infrastructure improving international broadband connectivity in Gabon
Gabon remains one of the wealthiest nations in Africa in terms of GDP per capita, with the economy largely buttressed by oil revenue.
The telecom market was liberalised in 1999 when the government awarded three mobile telephony licences and two Internet Service Provider (ISP) licences and established an independent regulatory authority. Following two unsuccessful attempts, Gabon Telecom was privatised in 2007 when Vivendi-controlled Maroc Telecom bought a 51% stake in the operator.
With competition between three service providers –Airtel Gabon (formerly Celtel and Zain), Gabon Telecom’s Libertis (owned by Maroc Telecom), and Moov (owned by Etisalat before being sold to Maroc Telecom in May 2014 and in the process of being merged with Libertis) – Gabon became one of the first countries in Africa to exceed 100% mobile market penetration (in 2008). Recently the regulator adjusted its recording of mobile penetration, based on a standard adopted by the French telecom regulator, to account for multiple SIM card use among subscribers. Network operators have been able to maintain higher Average Revenue per User (ARPU) than their peers in the region.
The 2009 entry of a fourth network, USAN (operated by Bintel under the brand name Azur) into a competitive market with high penetration triggered a price war that saw revenue and profits dive, forcing the operators to streamline their businesses and to look for new income streams. Following more than a year of delays, a licence to offer 3G mobile broadband services was finally awarded in late 2011. Both Airtel Gabon and Libertis have launched LTE services.
In contrast with the mobile market, Gabon’s fixed-line and internet/broadband sectors have remained underdeveloped due to a lack of competition and the resulting high prices. The country has always had sufficient international bandwidth on the SAT-3/WASC/SAFE fibre-optic submarine cable which runs from Portugal via South Africa to the Far East, but this facility has been monopolised by Gabon Telecom. The recent arrival of a second international submarine fibre optic cable (ACE), combined with progressing work on the CAB cable, has supported mobile data services and backhaul.
Regulator finalises universal service strategy aimed at eliminating mobile coverage white spots;
Gabon Telecom launches a 100Mb/s FttP service in Libreville;
Maroc Telecom merges Gabon Telecom and Moov Gabon;
Gabon Telecom to build nationwide fibre network, deliver VoD services;
Connecting cable linking to the CAB completed;
eGabon project launched to improve e-health services;
Regulator promotes MVNO market to maintain competition;
Axione contracted to extend and maintain national telecoms infrastructure;
MNOs begin registering SIM cards to comply with new regulations;
Airtel Gabon opens submarine link between Libreville and Port-Gentil;
Airtel Money service made available to BGFI Bank customers;
3G mobile licence finally awarded;
Libertis launches LTE services, secures new mobile licences;
Airtel Gabon launches commercial LTE service;
Report update includes the regulator’s market data to Q1 2016, operator data to Q1 2016, recent market developments.
Market penetration rates in Gabon’s telecoms sector – 2016 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services:
Fixed internet users
Mobile SIM (population)
Companies mentioned in this report:
Gabon Telecom (Maroc Telecom, Libertis); Bharti Airtel (Zain); Moov (Telecel Gabon); Bintel (USAN, Azur); Internet Gabon; Solsi; IBN Corporate.
Paul, May I congratulate you on a very successful and enjoyable afternoon with the Minister. In providing the roundtable discussions between government and industry, it highlighted the strong interest by stakeholders in Broadband and its implementation but it also presented us with other issues and opportunities that we need to address.