South Sudan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

South Sudan’s telcos struggling with hyperinflationary economy

Following a referendum, oil-rich South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 and became an independent nation. Having been deprived of investment for decades, it inherited one of the least developed telecommunications and internet markets in the world, while other infrastructure is also lamentably poor. Although this potentially can create investment opportunities for infrastructure and service providers, such developments largely depend on a negotiated end to the protracted civil war which erupted in December 2013, and which has caused considerable mayhem and bloodshed, particularly in the oil-producing areas. With the civic struggle exacerbated by large-scale famine, investors in all economic sectors have been discouraged.

There was once investment activity among mobile network operators who sought to expand their networks in some areas of the country, but by late 2016 both Zain South Sudan and MTN South Sudan had cut back their workforces in a bid to save on operating costs, while their falling subscriber bases have strained revenue. Zain South Sudan in particular recorded considerable financial losses in 2015 and 2016. Operators in the telecom sector, as in other markets, have placed themselves in survival mode and are hoping for a political settlement and a return to some degree of social stability. Although MTN and Zain reported a significant fall in the number of mobile subscribers in 2017, with a consequent severe decline in revenue, both saw subscriber bases increase in 2018 as they absorbed customers which had migrated from VivaCell after that company was closed down for failing to pay back taxes.

South Sudan has one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in Africa. Growth in the sector in coming years is premised on a resolution to the political crisis and a recovery of the country’s economy. The virtually untapped internet and broadband market also depends to a large extent on the country gaining access to international fibre optic cables and on a national backbone network being in place. Sophisticated infrastructure solutions are needed to reach the 80% of the population that live outside of the main urban centres. With a negligible rate of bank account ownership, mobile payment and banking solutions also have a strong potential once a reliable mobile infrastructure is built.

The limits to growth are currently defined by widespread poverty and a low literacy rate, but the government recognises the positive feedback loop on development that access to information and communication technologies (ICT) can have and is providing a range of investment incentives. The international community has provided billions of dollars in aid to strengthen governance and institutions in the young nation.

Key developments:

  • Zain South Sudan launches M-Gurush m-money service;
  • Zain South Sudan adjusts reporting for a hyper-inflationary economy;
  • Government revisits plan to build 1,600km fibre network to connect to submarine cables via Uganda and Tanzania;
  • Report update includes operator data to Q3 2019, ITU data for 2018, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Zain, VivaCell (Network of the World; NOW); MTN; Gemtel Green Network (G Telecom; LAP Green); Sudatel; Sudani; Canar Telecom (Canartel, Etisalat); fastNet; RCS Communication; iBurst; Thuraya; Yahsat; O3b Networks; Fujairah Media Group (FMG); Equity Bank.

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

  • Regional African Market Comparison

    • TMI vs GDP
    • Mobile and mobile broadband
    • Fixed and mobile broadband
  • Country overview

  • Telecommunications market

    • Market analysis
  • Regulatory environment

    • Historical overview
    • Regulatory authorities
    • ICT Policy
    • Universal access
    • International gateway
    • SIM card registration
    • Investment protection
    • Foreign ownership restrictions
  • Mobile market

    • Market analysis
    • Mobile statistics
    • Mobile data – SMS and MMS
    • Mobile broadband
    • Mobile infrastructure
      • 4G (LTE)
      • 3G
      • Other infrastructure developments
    • Major mobile operators
      • VivaCell
      • Gemtel
      • Zain South Sudan
      • MTN South Sudan
      • Sudani (Sudatel)
    • Mobile content and applications
      • Mobile banking
      • M-money
  • Fixed-line broadband market

    • Introduction and statistical overview
    • Broadband infrastructure
      • EV-DO
      • WiMAX and Wi-Fi
      • Broadband via satellite
  • Fixed network operators

    • Sudatel
      • Fixed-line infrastructure
      • Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
      • Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT)
      • National fibre backbone
    • Canartel (Canar Telecom)
    • Niletel
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • Overview of the national telecom network
    • International infrastructure
      • Satellite
      • Terrestrial fibre
      • The Central African Backbone (CAB)
  • Appendix – Historic data

  • Related reports


List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities – South Sudan – 2019 (e)
  • Table 2 – South Sudan consumer price index – 2012 – 2018
  • Table 3 – Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration – 2010 – 2024
  • Table 4 – SMS traffic – 2010 – 2019
  • Table 5 – Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers – 2011 – 2024
  • Table 6 – Growth in the number of Zain South Sudan’s subscribers and ARPU – 2012 – 2019
  • Table 7 – Development of MTN South Sudan’s revenue (ZAR) – 2015 – 2018
  • Table 8 – Growth in the number of MTN South Sudan’s mobile subscribers – 2012 – 2019
  • Table 9 – Change in MTN South Sudan’s mobile ARPU – 2014 – 2019
  • Table 10 – Growth in the number of fixed broadband subscriptions – 2010 – 2024
  • Table 11 – International internet bandwidth – 2010 – 2018
  • Table 12 –Historic - Internet users – 2000 – 2015
  • Table 13 – Historic - VivaCell South Sudan subscribers – 2013 – 2017
  • Table 14 – Historic - Zain South Sudan financial data – 2012 – 2016

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 – Bottom-tier Telecoms Maturity Index (Market Emergents) – 2018
  • Chart 4 – East Africa –Telecoms Maturity Index by country – 2018
  • Chart 6 – East Africa fixed and mobile penetration rates – 2018
  • Chart 7 – Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 8 – Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 9 – Growth in the number of Zain South Sudan’s subscribers and ARPU – 2012 – 2019
  • Chart 10 – Development of MTN South Sudan’s revenue (ZAR) – 2015 – 2018
  • Chart 11 – Growth in the number of MTN South Sudan’s mobile subscribers – 2012 – 2019
  • Chart 12 – Change in MTN South Sudan’s mobile ARPU – 2014 – 2019
  • Chart 13 – Growth in the number of fixed broadband subscriptions – 2010 – 2024

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit 1 – Generalised Market Characteristics by Market Segment
  • Exhibit 2 – Maps of Sudan and South Sudan

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