Mobile Telephone Network (MTN Rwanda) continues to be frustrated, along with its subscribers, by a not so reliable network. Over a month ago, the company’s CEO promised that it was going to take a week or so to fix the technological failures which were terrorising the network. We wrote in this column at that time that no one should doubt MTN’s resolve on making sure her customers are given back the quality network they deserve and pay for. After all they are an organisation of international repute and they cannot have acquired the status through offering half baked service.
With almost 700,000 subscribers out of ten million Rwandans, MTN has a mobile telephone penetration of 7 percent. This can as well be taken as the national Tele-density, since Rwandatel’s number of land lines and mobile lines is so far negligible.
The good thing is that MTN has no one to blame for the mess it is in, but itself. They have been victims of their own success. When they came here on September 8, 1998, Rwanda had about seven thousand telephone land lines only.
Eight years later in September 2006, they had managed to amass over two hundred fifty thousand subscribers. That was about 31,250 subscribers per year on average. Their capacity accommodated that modest growth, by African standards, with ease.
That was before the broiler growth set in: in a period of one year between September 2006 and September 2007, the number of subscribers doubled – 250,000 to 500,000! To make matters worse, or better, depending on the perspective, tariffs have since been lowered by roughly 40 percent. Plus, attractive packages such as Me2You, and costing per second, have been introduced. Remember too that a sim pack now goes for just Frw1000.
To this add the Mobile Phone per House Hold campaign launched in Musanze three months ago, aimed at connecting the rural folks. Under this public-private initiative, peasants can acquire a mobile hand set for only Frw13,000, and be allowed to stretch payment of this amount over a period of more than a year.
Back to the abnormal growth period of September 2006 to date; so much has been done to attract as many subscribers as possible and almost nothing has been done, yet, to accommodate the surging numbers by capacity upgrading. We say nothing yet because that is what the ordinary subscriber sees.
Forget about the Ericsson experts working with you, MTN, and whatever you are doing to put things right. What is at stake is customer convenience. For the moment it is seriously compromised, especially during evenings and over the weekends. And the question every affected person is asking is, “when will this nightmare network improve?”
Something positive from the misfortune though: mobile telephone batteries now last longer because of fewer calls received/made; many unsuccessful and dropped calls translate into reduced airtime bills; and, yes, those who work under constant phone call supervision can relax a little bit.
The bad news here is that economic productivity is negatively affected since call guided transactions are hereby suffering – till when, again, MTN?