Rwanda - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Rwandan mobile subscribers affected by SIM card restrictions

The Rwandan telecom market continues to develop strongly, buttressed by sustained GDP growth which has seen the country develop one the fastest-growing economies in the world. Supported by significant foreign aid, this growth has been helped by prudent fiscal and monetary policies which have create a business-friendly environment conducive to investment.

Nevertheless, poverty remains widespread. There is little economic diversity, with most of the population engaged in agriculture and a good proportion of the remainder involved in mineral and agro-processing sectors. The financial services sector is also underdeveloped: with banks focussed on government borrowing there is little attention paid to the support of small businesses, and most of the population has little or no access to conventional banking services. In turn, this has made Rwanda one of the more successful markets on the continent for mobile banking and payment services.

The country was slow to liberalise the mobile sector, allowing MTN a monopoly until 2006 when the fixed-line incumbent, Rwandatel (since acquired by Liquid Telecom) became the second mobile operator. There has been effective competition among the three current operators, each of which provides wide geographic coverage. The launch of services from Tigo in 2009 sparked renewed subscriber growth, though competition has eroded mobile services revenue and ARPU since then. However, the acquisition of Tigo by Airtel, a deal to be closed over a two-year period, will see the Tigo brand removed and a significant consolidation in the market.

Rwanda’s internet and broadband sector has suffered from limited fixed-line infrastructure and high prices. Nevertheless, operators are rolling out national fibre-optic backbone networks which also allow them to connect to the international submarine fibre-optic cables on the African east coast. These cables have given the entire region fibre-based international bandwidth for the first time and ended its dependency on satellites. Liquid Telecom has continued to expand its FttP services across Kigali and a number of other towns.

Interest from investors in the country’s ICT sector remains strong. A deal with Korea Telecom has developed a wholesale LTE operator, Korea Telecom Rwanda Networks, which provides retail services to a number of fixed-line operators as well as to the mobile network operators. The number of subscribers on LTE infrastructure has increased sharply, helped by national LTE coverage achieved in mid-2018.

Key developments:

  • Rwanda’s schools benefit from connection to One Web Satellite’s network;
  • SIM Card registration scheme launched;
  • MTN invests in network upgrades;
  • Government commits to smart city infrastructure investment;
  • Liquid Telecom expands FttP network;
  • MNOs implement One Network Area scheme removing roaming charges;
  • Smart Africa Alliance Initiative to raise $300 billion by 2020 for regional ICT infrastructure;
  • KTRN reaches national LTE coverage;
  • Report update includes the regulator’s market data to March 2019, telcos’ operating data to Q4 2018, Telecom Maturity Index tables, charts and analyses, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Rwandatel (Terracom, LapGreen); MTN Rwanda; Liquid Telecom; Tigo Rwanda (Millicom); Bharti Airtel; Artel Communications; Electrogaz.

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

  • Country overview

  • Telecommunications market

    • Market analysis
    • Historic overview
  • Regional African Market Comparison

    • TMI vs GDP
    • Mobile and mobile broadband
    • Fixed and mobile broadband
  • Regulatory environment

    • Regulatory authority
      • Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA)
      • RITA and NICT
    • Licensing
    • Market liberalisation
      • Third national operator licence
      • Fourth mobile licence: Bharti Airtel
    • Interconnection
    • Universal access
  • Fixed network operators

    • Liquid Telecom
      • Privatisation
      • Network infrastructure
      • Wireless local loop (WLL)
    • Artel Communications
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • Overview of the national telecom network
      • Liquid Telecom (Rwandatel/Terracom)
      • Electrogaz
      • MTN Rwanda
    • International infrastructure
      • VSAT
      • Smart Africa Alliance
      • The East Africa Backhaul System (EABS)
      • Submarine fibre optic cables
  • Fixed-line broadband market

    • Introduction and statistical overview
      • Market analysis
      • Broadband statistics
      • ISP market
    • Rwanda Internet Exchange Point (RIXP)
    • Cybercafes and telecentres
    • One Laptop per Child (OLPC)
    • Other initiatives
    • Fixed-line broadband technologies
      • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) networks
      • Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) networks
      • Other fixed broadband services
  • Digital Economy

    • E-government
    • E-health
    • E-learning
    • Cloud services
  • Mobile market

    • Market analysis
    • Mobile statistics
    • Mobile data
    • Mobile broadband
    • Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2019; 2021; 2023
    • Regulatory issues
      • Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • Tower infrastructure
      • One Area Network
      • SIM card registration
    • Mobile infrastructure
      • 4G (LTE)
      • 3G
    • Major mobile operators
      • MTN Rwanda
      • Rwandatel (formerly Terracom Mobile)
      • Tigo Rwanda
      • Airtel Rwanda
    • Mobile handsets
    • Mobile content and applications
      • Money transfer, m-banking
  • Related reports


List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities – Rwanda – 2018
  • Table 2 – Telecom sector investment – 2005 – 2018
  • Table 3 – Telecom sector revenue – 2002 – 2018
  • Table 4 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1999 – 2009
  • Table 5 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 – 2018
  • Table 6 – Fixed lines by operator – 2010 – 2018
  • Table 7 – International bandwidth – 2006 – 2018
  • Table 8 – Historic - Internet subscribers and penetration rate – 1999 – 2009
  • Table 9 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2010- 2018
  • Table 10 – Internet subscribers by platform – 2009- 2018
  • Table 11 – Dial-up internet subscribers by operator – 2013 – 2018
  • Table 12 – Fixed broadband (>256kb/s) subscribers by operator – 2013 – 2018
  • Table 13 – Internet subscribers by major ISP – 2011 – 2017
  • Table 14 –Prepaid and contract mobile subscribers –2016 – 2019
  • Table 15 – Mobile call tariff – 2009 – 2017
  • Table 16 – Mobile sector revenue – 2015 – 2018
  • Table 17 –Mobile geographic coverage by operator –2018
  • Table 18 –Mobile population coverage by operator – 2018
  • Table 19 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1999 – 2009
  • Table 20 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2010 – 2019
  • Table 21 – Mobile subscribers by operator (regulator data) – 2009 – 2018
  • Table 22 –Mobile market share of subscribers by operator – 2011- 2019
  • Table 23 – Active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2010 – 2018
  • Table 24 – Mobile internet market share of subscribers by operator– 2013- 2018
  • Table 25 – Mobile broadband subscribers by operator – 2014 – 2018
  • Table 26 – Forecast mobile subscribers – 2019; 2021; 2023
  • Table 27 – MTN Rwanda ARPU – 2002 – 2018
  • Table 28 – MTN Rwanda financial data – 2011 – 2018
  • Table 29 – MTN Rwanda subscribers – 2012 – 2019
  • Table 30 – Tigo Rwanda B2C subscribers – 2010 – 2017
  • Table 31 – Tigo Rwanda mobile subscribers – 2015 – 2018
  • Table 32 – Airtel Rwanda subscribers – 2010 – 2019
  • Table 33 – M-money transactions and value – 2016 – 2017

List of Charts

  • Chart 1 – Overall Africa view - Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita – 2018
  • Chart 2 – East Africa - Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita – 2018
  • Chart 3 – Africa – Middle-tier Telecoms Maturity Index (Market Leaders) – 2018
  • Chart 4 – East Africa –Telecoms Maturity Index by country – 2018
  • Chart 5 – East Africa mobile subscriber penetration versus mobile broadband penetration – 2018
  • Chart 6 – East Africa fixed and mobile penetration rates – 2018
  • Chart 7 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 – 2018
  • Chart 8 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2005- 2018
  • Chart 9 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2005 – 2019
  • Chart 10 – MTN Rwanda financial data – 2011 – 2018

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit 1 – Generalised Market Characteristics by Market Segment
  • Exhibit 2 – East Africa - Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country

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