Rwanda - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Rwandan economic growth benefitting telecom market

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 brought to an end its dependency on satellites. Suring 2018 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 mobile subscriber forecasts to 2023.

Key developments:

MTN to invest $20 million in network upgrades; Millicom sells its Tigo Rwanda unit to Airtel, with the Tigo brand to be phased out; government commits to investing in smart city infrastructure; 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 February 2018, telcos’ operating data to Q4 2017, 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

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Market analysis
    • 4.2 Historic overview
  • 5. Regional African Market Comparison
    • 5.1 Mobile and mobile broadband
    • 5.2 Fixed and mobile broadband
    • 5.3 TMI vs GDP
  • 6. Regulatory environment
    • 6.1 Regulatory authority
      • 6.1.1 Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA)
      • 6.1.2 RITA and NICT
    • 6.2 Licensing
    • 6.3 Market liberalisation
      • 6.3.1 Third national operator licence
      • 6.3.2 Fourth mobile licence: Bharti Airtel
    • 6.4 Interconnection
    • 6.5 Universal access
      • 6.5.1 MTN VillagePhone
  • 7. Fixed network operators
    • 7.1 Liquid Telecom
      • 7.1.1 Privatisation
      • 7.1.2 Network infrastructure
      • 7.1.3 Wireless local loop (WLL)
    • 7.2 Artel Communications
  • 8. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 8.1 Overview of the national telecom network
    • 8.2 Liquid Telecom (Rwandatel/Terracom)
    • 8.3 Electrogaz
    • 8.4 MTN Rwanda
    • 8.5 International infrastructure
      • 8.5.1 VSAT
      • 8.5.2 Smart Africa Alliance
      • 8.5.3 The East Africa Backhaul System (EABS)
      • 8.5.4 Submarine fibre optic cables
  • 9. Fixed-line broadband market
    • 9.1 Introduction and statistical overview
    • 9.2 Market analysis
    • 9.3 Broadband statistics
    • 9.4 ISP market
    • 9.5 Rwanda Internet Exchange Point (RIXP)
    • 9.6 Cybercafes and telecentres
    • 9.7 One Laptop per Child (OLPC)
    • 9.8 Other initiatives
    • 9.9 Fixed-line broadband technologies
      • 9.9.1 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) networks
      • 9.9.2 Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) networks
      • 9.9.3 Other fixed broadband services
  • 10. Digital Economy
    • 10.1 E-government
    • 10.2 E-health
    • 10.3 E-learning
    • 10.4 Cloud services
  • 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 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 – 2017
  • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2017 (Sep)
  • Table 3 – Internet provider statistics – 2018
  • Table 4 – Internet statistics – 2018 (e)
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2018 (Feb)
  • 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 – 2017
  • Table 12 – International bandwidth – 2006 - 2017
  • 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- 2017
  • Table 16 – Dial-up internet subscribers by operator – 2013 - 2017
  • Table 17 – Fixed broadband (>256kb/s) subscribers by type – 2013 - 2017
  • Table 18 – Internet subscribers by major ISP – 2011 - 2017
  • Table 19 –Prepaid and contract mobile subscribers –2016 - 2018
  • Table 20 – Mobile call tariff – 2009 - 2017
  • Table 21 – Mobile sector revenue – 2015 - 2017
  • Table 22 –Mobile geographic coverage by operator – September 2017
  • Table 23 –Mobile population coverage by operator – September 2017
  • Table 24 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 25 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 26 – Mobile subscribers by operator (regulator data) – 2009 - 2018
  • Table 27 –Mobile market share of subscribers by operator – 2011- 2018
  • Table 28 – Active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 29 – Mobile internet market share of subscribers by operator– 2013- 2017
  • Table 30 – Mobile broadband subscribers by operator – 2014 - 2017
  • Table 31 – Forecast mobile subscribers – 2019; 2021; 2023
  • Table 32 – MTN Rwanda ARPU – 2002 - 2017
  • Table 33 – MTN Rwanda financial data – 2011 - 2014
  • Table 34 – MTN Rwanda subscribers – 2012 - 2018
  • Table 35 – Tigo Rwanda B2C subscribers – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 36 – Tigo Rwanda mobile subscribers – 2015 - 2018
  • Table 37 – Airtel Rwanda subscribers – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 38 – M-money transactions and value – 2016 - 2017
  • Chart 1 – Africa Telecoms Maturity Index – Market Challengers (middle tier) - 2017
  • Chart 2 – Central Africa –Telecoms Maturity Index by country - 2017
  • Chart 3 – Central Africa mobile subscriber penetration versus mobile broadband penetration - 2017
  • Chart 4 – Central Africa fixed and mobile penetration rates - 2017
  • Chart 6 – Central Africa - Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita - 2017
  • 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 - 2018
  • Exhibit 1 – Generalised Market Characteristics by Market Segment
  • Exhibit 2 – Central Africa - Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country

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