Mobile phone penetration up by 7.7 per cent

  • By Frank Kanyesigye
  • August 27, 2013

Rwanda’s mobile phone penetration rate has improved greatly within the last six months, an indication that the population is enjoying the benefits accruing from the use of the devices.

According to latest statistics from Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), the subscription seems to be improving greatly as 62.8 per cent of the population have access to the devices.

The figures that account for subscription recorded from January up to end of July show that the mobile phone penetration increased from  5.9 million (55.1 per cent) in January to 6.6 million (62.8 per cent)  in July.

MTN Rwanda still holds the lion’s share of subscription base with 3,665,094, followed by Tigo, a subsidiary of Luxembourg-based Millicom International Cellular SA (1,994,468) and a new player in the market, Indian telecom giant, Airtel with 959,551.

The increase indicates steady growth in subscription base as the years go by.

“On the daily basis I sell 20 SIM cards and each costs Rwf 500. We are seeing many clients buying cards especially ordinary citizens,” says Jean Dieu Tuyisenge, an  MTN airtime vendor.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), there will soon be as many mobile phone subscriptions as people inhabiting the planet, with the figure set to nudge past the seven billion mark early in 2014.

“We don’t set any target for mobile phone subscription in the country but we predict by the end of this year, the penetration will have reached 65 per cent, which is really encouraging,” said Regis Gatarayiha, the director general of Rura while speaking to The New Times on Sunday.

He noted that, the tight competition among the three telecom operators could be behind the unprecedented growth of subscription.

In the regional countries mobile subscriber base stands at 72.2 per cent in Kenya, Tanzania 56 per cent and Uganda 47 per cent.

Last month a total of 485,867 mobile subscribers were disconnected, for failure to register their SIM cards in an exercise that kicked off in February this year.

The six-month campaign is a prerequisite to regional integration under the East Africa Communications Organisation (EACO), aimed at curbing crimes committed through the use of cell phones.

Statistics from Rura show that 6,110,138 SIM cards were registered, representing 92.6 per cent of the total mobile subscription base in the country.

Contact email: frank.kanyesigye[at]


Hello Frank, I think there is a serious statistical problem here, do you count the number of mobile subscriber by counting SIM cards? since a single person might have 2 or 3 or 4 SIM cards, wouldn't it be better if they could tell us how many persons own a mobile phone by counting the number of people who registered their SIM cards instead?

13:44:29 Tuesday 27th, August 2013 Kigali - Frank

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