Rwanda: Mobile Phone Subscriptions Grow By 1%
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.
The number of Rwandans using mobile phones increased marginally at the end of July, the latest mobile telephone subscriptions report shows.
The report was released by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), the sector’s regulator.
The quarterly report indicates that the total number of active mobile telephone subscriptions in the country increased from 9,226,721 at the end of June to 9,321,347 at the end of July-2018 to, an increase of 1.03 per cent.
The regulator uses 90-day revenue-generating subscriber returns from telecom firms to compute the figures.
The mobile-cellular telephone penetration rate rose by 0. 80 per cent from 78.13 per cent to 78.93 per cent.
Postpaid subscriptions increased to 135,369 at the end of July from 133,638 the previous month, while the prepaid subscriptions increased from 9,093,083 at the end of June to 9,185,978 as of July.
RURA is still recording active mobile telephone users based on three telecom firms – MTN, Airtel and Tigo – despite approving the Airtel-Tigo merger on January 23.
Airtel Rwanda early this year acquired Tigo Rwanda consequently increasing their market share to about 5.1 million subscribers.
Beyond revenue receipts, market share is important for telcos as they greatly influence a firm’s ability to innovate and roll out new products.