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Mauritania - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 26 Aug 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 78

Mauritania again issues tender for LTE license auction

Mauritania’s small population and low economic output has limited the country’s ability to develop sustained growth. There are also practical challenges relating to transparency and tax burdens which have hindered foreign investment.

The telecom sector similarly faces a number of hurdles, though efforts continue to be made to address them with financial support from the government as well as the World Bank and European Investment Bank. These efforts have been focussed on implementing appropriate regulatory measures and promoting the further penetration of fixed-line broadband services by improving the national backbone network, ensuring connectivity to international telecom cables, and facilitating operator access to infrastructure. Much progress has been made to improve internet bandwidth capacity, including the completion of a cable link at the border with Algeria, while by early 2021 the country will also be connected to the EllaLink submarine cable.

Mauritel maintains a virtual monopoly in the fixed-line sector, and there is little stimulus for new market entrants. Penetration of fixed telephony and broadband penetration is very low and is expected to remain so in coming years, though growth is anticipated following improvements to backbone infrastructure and the reduction in access pricing.

Most voice and data services are carried over the mobile networks maintained by Mauritel, Mattel and Chinguitel though all three have repeatedly fallen short in their quality of service, despite fines being imposed (twice in 2020 alone). This represents a significant challenge, given the importance of mobile networks for basic telecom services.

Population penetration of 3G is relatively high, though developments in LTE have been stalled repeatedly following a succession of failed licence auctions. The regulator continues to pursue it plans, issuing a renewed tender in August 2020. In the meantime, mobile broadband access speeds are low, placing a brake on the potential for mobile commerce and related applications.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 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.

Key Developments:

  • Some 1,600km of new fibre backbone network laid as part of a WARCIP funded project;
  • Regulator concludes LTE auction with no acceptable bids made, issues another tender;
  • Mauritania improves international bandwidth through connection to the EllaLink submarine cable system;
  • MNOs fined twice in 2020 for poor QoS;
  • Chinguitel introduces improved billing system;
  • Digital High Council named to develop Digital Strategy for Mauritania;
  • Mauritania joins regional free roaming initiatives;
  • Mattel secures satellite backhaul connectivity for remote areas;
  • Report update includes ITU data for 2019, operator data for Q1 2020, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Mauritel, Mattel, Chinguitel, Sudatel, Expresso Telecom, Tunisie Telecom.

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