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 up to 99% of the population engaged in agriculture and in the 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.
Although the country was slow to liberalise the mobile sector, allowing South Africa’s MTN a monopoly until 2006 when the fixed-line incumbent, Rwandatel (since acquired by Liquid Telecom) became the second mobile operator, there is 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.
Rwanda’s internet and broadband sector has suffered from limited fixed-line infrastructure and high prices, but developments in the fixed network market are improving connectivity and reliability. The 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 brought to an end its dependency on satellites. During 2017 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 increased 200% in 2016, year-on-year.
This report contains an overview and analysis of Rwanda’s telecommunications market, profiles of the major players in all market sectors, relevant statistics and analysis, and scenario forecasts to 2021 for the country’s mobile market.
Tigo Rwanda pilots loan facility via Tigo Cash; government commits to investing in smart city infrastructure with Nokia; Bharti Airtel considers sale of Rwandan unit; MTN Rwanda fined for moving IT services abroad; Liquid Telecom expands FttP network; fleet of buses equipped with LTE routers to provide mobile broadband for passengers; regulator calls for interested parties to manage Mobile Number Portability facility; MNOs implement One Network Area scheme removing roaming charges; Smart Africa Alliance Initiative to raise $300 billion by 2020 for regional ICT infrastructure; KTRN expands wholesale LTE services; report update includes the regulator’s market data to December 2016, telcos’ operating data to Q4 2016, recent market developments.
|Mobile SIM (population)||79%|
Rwandatel (Terracom, LapGreen); MTN Rwanda; Liquid Telecom; Tigo Rwanda (Millicom); Bharti Airtel; Artel Communications; Electrogaz.
Companies (Major Players)
Mobile & Wireless Broadband and Media
Mobile Communications (voice and infrastructure)
Regulations & Government Policies
Strategies & Analyses (Industry & Markets)
Number of pages 50
Last updated 19 May 2017
Analyst: Henry Lancaster
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