Rwanda Telecoms Market Report

Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Publication Date: July 2024

Report Pages: 168

Rwanda’s regulator frees up LTE and 5G for MNOs’ own networks

Rwanda was slow to liberalise the mobile sector, allowing MTN Rwanda to hold a monopoly until 2006 when the fixed-line incumbent, Rwandatel (since acquired by Liquid Intelligence Technologies) became the second mobile operator. There was effective competition among three operators after Tigo launched services in 2009. However, the acquisition of Tigo by Airtel saw a significant consolidation in the market, and the cancellation of Rwandatel’s licence in 2011 resulted in the market becoming a duopoly between MTN and Airtel. MTN remains the dominant operator in the mobile sector, with a market share of subscribers of around 62%.

The fixed broadband sector has suffered from limited fixed-line infrastructure and high prices. Nevertheless, operators are rolling out national backbone networks which also allow them to connect to the international submarine cables on Africa’s east coast. These cables gave the entire region greater internet bandwidth and ended the dependency on satellites. LIT has continued to expand its FttP services across Kigali and a number of other towns, while the country also has a new cable link with Tanzania, and via Tanzania’s national broadband backbone it has gained connectivity to the networks of several other countries in the region.

The number of subscribers on LTE infrastructure has increased sharply, helped by national LTE coverage achieved in mid-2018. Mobile remains the dominant platform for voice and data services. The regulator in late 2022 changed its approach to LTE, removing the exclusivity held by KTRN as a provider of wholesale access to its network, and enabling MTN and Airtel to build their own networks. By the end of 2023 these operators had upgraded almost their entire mobile infrastructure to LTE.

Key developments:

  • MTN launches its own LTE network following the adoption of the National Broadband Policy and Strategy, which liberalised MNOs’ use of mobile technologies.
  • Starlink launches satellite broadband services, with the government aiming to connect most schools to the service by the end of 2024.
  • Regulator trials zero rated mobile interconnection for MTN and Airtel for one year.
  • Intelsat and Africa Mobile Networks agreed to deploy rural base stations providing mobile satellite connectivity in underserved areas of Rwanda.
  • Report update includes the regulator’s annual report for 2021-22, market data to November 2023, telcos’ operating data to Q3 2023, updated Telecom Maturity Index tables, charts and analyses, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Rwandatel (Terracom, LapGreen), MTN Rwanda (MTN Rwandacell), Liquid Telecom (LIT), Tigo Rwanda (Millicom), Bharti Airtel, Artel Rwanda, Electrogaz

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