Rwanda - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Rwandan government commits to smart city investment

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.

Key developments:

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.

Market penetration rates in Rwanda’s telecoms sector – 2016 (e)

Market Penetration rate
Fixed-line telephony 0.1%
Fixed internet 29.3%
Mobile SIM (population) 79%

Companies mentioned in this report:

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

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Market analysis
    • 4.2 Historic overview
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Regulatory authority
      • 5.1.1 Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA)
      • 5.1.2 RITA and NICT
    • 5.2 Licensing
    • 5.3 Market liberalisation
      • 5.3.1 Third national operator licence
      • 5.3.2 Fourth mobile licence: Bharti Airtel
    • 5.4 Interconnection
    • 5.5 Universal access
      • 5.5.1 MTN VillagePhone
      • 5.5.2 ‘Cheaper handsets’ initiatives
    • 5.6 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • 6. Fixed network operators
    • 6.1 Liquid Telecom
      • 6.1.1 Privatisation
      • 6.1.2 Network infrastructure
      • 6.1.3 Wireless local loop (WLL)
    • 6.2 Artel Communications
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
    • 7.2 Liquid Telecom (Rwandatel/Terracom)
    • 7.3 Electrogaz
    • 7.4 MTN Rwanda
    • 7.5 International infrastructure
      • 7.5.1 VSAT
      • 7.5.2 Smart Africa Alliance
      • 7.5.3 The East Africa Backhaul System (EABS)
      • 7.5.4 Submarine fibre optic cables
  • 8. Fixed-line broadband market
    • 8.1 Introduction and statistical overview
    • 8.2 Market analysis
    • 8.3 Broadband statistics
    • 8.4 ISP market
    • 8.5 Rwanda Internet Exchange Point (RIXP)
    • 8.6 Cybercafes and telecentres
    • 8.7 One Laptop per Child (OLPC)
    • 8.8 Other initiatives
    • 8.9 Fixed-line broadband technologies
      • 8.9.1 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) networks
      • 8.9.2 Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) networks
      • 8.9.3 Other fixed broadband services
  • 9. Digital Economy
    • 9.1 E-government
    • 9.2 E-health
    • 9.3 E-learning
    • 9.4 Cloud services
  • 10. Digital media
    • 10.1 Digital TV developments
    • 10.2 Videostreaming
  • 11. Mobile market
    • 11.1 Market analysis
    • 11.2 Mobile statistics
    • 11.3 Mobile data
    • 11.4 Mobile broadband
    • 11.5 Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2018; 2020; 2022
    • 11.6 Regulatory issues
      • 11.6.1 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • 11.6.2 Tower infrastructure
      • 11.6.3 One Area Network
    • 11.7 Mobile infrastructure
      • 11.7.1 Digital networks
    • 11.8 Major mobile operators
      • 11.8.1 MTN Rwanda
      • 11.8.2 Rwandatel (formerly Terracom Mobile)
      • 11.8.3 Tigo Rwanda
      • 11.8.4 Bharti Airtel Rwanda
    • 11.9 Mobile handsets
    • 11.10 Mobile content and applications
      • 11.10.1 Money transfer, m-banking
  • 12. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Rwanda – 2016 (e)
  • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2016
  • Table 3 – Internet provider statistics – 2016
  • Table 4 – Internet and social media user statistics – 2016 (e)
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2016
  • Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 7 – Telecom sector investment – 2005 - 2016
  • Table 8 – Telecom sector revenue – 2001 - 2018
  • Table 9 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 10 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 11 – Fixed lines by operator – 2010 – 2016
  • Table 12 – International bandwidth – 2006 - 2016
  • Table 13 – Historic - Internet subscribers and penetration rate – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 14 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2010- 2018
  • Table 15 – Internet subscribers by platform – 2009- 2016
  • Table 16 – Dial-up internet subscribers by operator – 2013 - 2016
  • Table 17 – Broadband (>256kb/s) subscribers by type – 2013 - 2016
  • Table 18 – Internet subscribers by major ISP – 2011 - 2016
  • Table 19 – Registered pay TV subscribers by operator – 2013 - 2015
  • Table 20 – Active pay TV subscribers by operator – 2013 - 2015
  • Table 21 – Mobile call tariff – 2009 - 2016
  • Table 22 – Mobile sector revenue – 2015 - 2016
  • Table 23 –Mobile geographic coverage by operator – December 2016
  • Table 24 –Mobile population coverage by operator – December 2016
  • Table 25 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 26 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 27 – Mobile subscribers by operator (regulator data) – 2009 - 2016
  • Table 28 –Mobile market share of subscribers by operator – 2011- 2016
  • Table 29 – Active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2010 - 2016
  • Table 30 – Mobile internet market share of subscribers by operator– 2013- 2016
  • Table 31 – Mobile broadband subscribers by operator – 2014 - 2016
  • Table 32 – Forecast mobile subscribers – 2018; 2020; 2022
  • Table 33 – MTN Rwanda ARPU – 2002 - 2017
  • Table 34 – MTN Rwanda financial data – 2011 - 2014
  • Table 35 – MTN Rwanda subscribers – 2012 - 2017
  • Table 36 – Tigo Rwanda subscribers – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 37 – Bharti Airtel Rwanda subscribers – 2010 - 2016
  • Chart 1 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 – 2018
  • Chart 2 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2005- 2018
  • Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2005 - 2018
  • Exhibit 1 – e-Soko

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