Guinea’s telecommunications sector was given a tremendous boost following the market entry of MTN Group and Orange Group. Subsequently, the number of mobile subscribers grew strongly while revenue also increased steadily. The debt-stricken incumbent fixed-line operator Sotelgui operated its Lagui mobile unit before it closed down in late 2012. Sotelgui was declared bankrupt in 2013, though the government since 2019 has sought to secure partners and investors to help launch a replacement operator, Guinea Telecom. The heavily indebted fourth mobile player Intercel was obliged to close down its network in late 2018.
Broadband services are still very limited and expensive. The landing of the first international fibre optic submarine cable in 2012, and the setting up of an IXP in mid-2013, has gone some way to developing the nascent broadband market develop by reducing the cost of internet bandwidth and improving the reliability of infrastructure. A National Backbone Network is nearing completion, connecting administrative centres across the country, though in practice almost all internet connectivity will remain via mobile infrastructure.
BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.
Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.
The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.
Société des Télécommunications de Guinée (Sotelgui), MTN (Areeba, Investcom), Orange (Spacetel), Intercel (Télécel Guinea), Cellcom Guinee, MiriNet (Afribone), ETI, Universal Communication (DiscoveryTel), Ristel, Afripa Telecom, Alternet Systems, Broad Telecom, Soguicis, Thucatel, Telekom Malaysia
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