Rwanda: Phone Users At 5 Million

Kigali Rwanda — Rwanda's mobile phone penetration reached 53.1% by December 2012 from 44.4% in June with new entrant Airtel making huge gains of the telecommunication market share in Rwanda which is dominated by MTN.

Fresh statistics obtained from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) for active mobile subscribers for a 90 day period ending in December 2012 indicate that the country's mobile phone subscribers reached 5,690,751 million up from 4.7million in June.

While the figures further show that MTN-Rwanda are still the market leaders with a reported 3,432,755 users followed by Tigo with 1,866,924 subscribers, new entrants Airtel are making fast gains mainly exploiting recent public complaints concerning poor network provided by especially MTN.

In Junes last year, Airtel Rwanda had 110,304 active subscribers which grew to 144,044 in July and had reached 184,422 by September last year. The figures indicate that by close of last year, Airtel's subscription trend was growing upwards with 391,072 subscribers by end of December last year.

The figures mean Airtel had gained a massive 280768 new subscribers to its network between June and December which translates to 40, 000 new clients per month. Airtel launched its operations in Rwanda in March last year and its market share is already at 4% with less than 10% geographical coverage and only 15% of the population.

RURA puts MTN's geographical network coverage at 98.12% reaching out to 98.01% of the population. Meanwhile, despite having a limited network geographical coverage of 76.95%, Tigo surprisingly reaches out to more people at 98.83%.

Unfortunately, superior network coverage and population outreach by both MTN and Tigo have not translated to quality services for the millions of their subscribers.

Since September last year, both MTN-Rwanda and Tigo have received notifications concerning services that don't measure up to required standards an issue that forced RURA to order MTN-Rwanda to pay daily fines of RWF3million for a period of one month from September 14th.

Following the fine, the regulator gave MTN-Rwanda an additional period of 3 months within which to implement its network upgrade.

The up-grade according to RURA engineers would enable MTN reduce on network failure.

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