Mobile phone users in Rwanda increased by 0.71 per cent in the month of March after a drop in the first two months of this year, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) said in the figures released last week.
The news comes hot on the heels of Bharti Airtel’s launch in the country bolstering the telecom giant’s footprint in the region.
Rwanda’s mobile phone users increased to 4,453,711 million in March up from 4,422,181 million at the end of February.
Between the month of December last year and February this year, the sector had registered a 0.05 per cent slump in the number of phone users which is equivalent to 24,010.
The sector regulator said the dip was caused by members of the Diaspora that were in the country for long holidays and went back after the festive season as well as high school students who were on long vacations before going back to school.
“MTN’s mobile subscribers increased to 2,904,122 in March from 2,875,722 in February, registering an increase of 28,400 phone users while its main competitor TIGO Rwanda, registered an increase of only 3,130 users to 1,546,459 from 1,549,589 in February,” the regulator indicated in figures.
RURA statistics also indicate that the country’s mobile cellular penetration rate increased by 41.6 per cent last month up from 41.3 per cent.
With the entry of a new player (Airtel), the sector regulator projects to have six million mobile phone users and 60 per cent mobile penetration rate by the end of this year.
Rwanda’s mobile penetration is the lowest in the region after Burundi.
Head of Communication at RURA, Jean Baptist Mutabazi, said the increase is a normal trend within the sector.
Telecom sector experts say with Airtel’s entry would trigger competition in the sector that has been dominated by MTN for over 10 years with subscribers enjoying cheaper calling rates.
The Indian operator which launched its operations three weeks ago, pledged to invest $100 million over the next three years taking its reach in Africa to 17 markets.
Airtel’s mobile phone users were not included as it is barely a month old in the market.