3 January 2018

Rwanda's Mobile Telephone Penetration Rises Slightly to 75.5% in November

Rwanda's mobile telephone penetration rate increased marginally to 75.5 per cent in November from 75.2 per cent, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) "Active mobile telephone subscriptions" monthly report for November 2017 shows.

The country's mobile telephone penetration level was at 78.7 per cent during a similar period in 2016. According to the report, the total number of active mobile telephone subscriptions increased to 8.70 million at the end of November, from 8.67 million the previous month, showing an increase of 0.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, MTN Rwanda regained its market share dominance during the month having dropped to within a percentage point of rivals Tigo in October. According to the RURA report, MTN controlled 42 per cent of the mobile telecom market share in November, up from 41 per cent the previous month.

Tigo, which was taken over by Bharti Airtel last month, now has 40 per cent of total mobile phone users compared to 41 per cent in October. Airtel announced it had signed an acquisition agreement with a definitive agreement with Millicom International Cellular S.A under which Airtel will acquire 100 per cent stake of Tigo Rwanda operations about two weeks ago, subject to approval by the regulator. If the deal is sanctioned, Airtel will leapfrog MTN in terms of subscribers and market share, creating a two-horse race in the mobile telecom market. Presently, Airtel has 18 per cent of the total mobile telephony subscriber numbers.

The report indicates that MTN had 3.65 million users in November 2017, up 1.9 per cent from 3.58 million clients in October. Tigo users inched lower by 0.5 per cent to 3.43 million subscribers compared to 3.45 million customers the previous month, while Airtel was the biggest loser shedding 1.3 per cent of its market share to 1.61 million, down from 1.63 million users during the reporting period.

That MTN was able to regain its dominance immediately could point to a "tough fight" ahead when the takeover of Tigo operations by Airtel is finally permitted by RURA.

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