The Rwandan telecom sector has shown particularly strong growth in recent years, buttressed by a vibrant economy and a GDP which has sustained growth of between 7% and 8% annually since 2008. As a result, the country is rapidly catching up with other markets in Africa, with increased penetration particularly evident in the internet and mobile sectors.
Although the country was slow to liberalise the mobile sector, allowing South Africa’s MTN a monopoly until 2006 when the fixed-line incumbent, Rwandatel became the second mobile operator, there is effective competition among the three current operators, each of which provides wide geographic coverage. The launch of services from Millicom/Tigo in 2009 sparked renewed subscriber growth, though competition has eroded mobile services revenue and ARPU since then.
Rwanda’s internet and broadband sector has suffered from limited fixed-line infrastructure and high prices, but developments in the fixed network market are improving connectivity and reliability. The operators are rolling out national fibre-optic backbone networks which also allow them to connect to the international submarine fibre-optic cables that landed on the African east coast in 2009 and 2010. These cables have given the entire region fibre-based international bandwidth for the first time and brought to an end its dependency on satellites.
Interest from investors in the country’s ICT sector remains strong, particularly during the last few years. An existing deal with Korea Telecom to build a national fibre backbone was supplemented in September 2013 with a deal by which Korea Telecom will build a national LTE network, for which it has secured spectrum and an exclusive licence to operate the network for 25 years.
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