Rwanda’s mobile phone penetration drops in April

Rwanda’s mobile phone penetration rate has dropped marginally in April compared the previous month, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) latest figures released this week indicate.
A mobile phone user displays a banking app. Rwanda's mobile phone penetration rate is at 72.6% as of April, according to latest figures by RURA, the sector regulator.  (File)
A mobile phone user displays a banking app. Rwanda's mobile phone penetration rate is at 72.6% as of April, according to latest figures by RURA, the sector regulator. (File)

Rwanda’s mobile phone penetration rate has dropped marginally in April compared the previous month, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) latest figures released this week indicate.

“The total number of active mobile telephone subscriptions (90-days revenue generating subscribers) in Rwanda decreased from over 8.4 million at the end of March to 8.37 million users at the end of April, showing a decline of 0.32 per cent,” the report indicates.

As a result, the country’s mobile phones penetration rate went down slightly to 72.65 per cent from 72.88 per cent. This, however, is a big decline in the number of active mobile phone subscribers compared to 79.2 per cent or 8.9 million subscribers in December 2016.  The penetration rate was calculated based on the projected ‘medium population’ of 2016, which is 11.5 million people, according to the RURA report.

Meanwhile, postpaid subscriptions rose from 115,692 at the end of March to 116,879 in April, while prepaid subscribers decreased to 8,259,365 at the end of April from 8,287,271 the previous month.

Tigo Rwanda is the only firm that recorded an increase in number of active mobile subscribers in April of 0.11 per cent, from 3,250,460 to 3,253,997. MTN Rwanda’s phone subscribers went down to 3,534,489, from 3,555,256 in March, indicating a decrease of 0.58 per cent. Rwanda’s last telecom market entrant, Airtel shed 0.59 per cent of its mobile phone subscribers during the recording period from 1,597,247 to 1,587,758 customers, making it the biggest loser in April.

Overall, Tigo has maintained a positive trend in the last five months - from December 2016 to April - in the number of postpaid mobile phone subscriptions.

In December, the firm had 60,324 active users, which rose to 62,493 subscribers in January, and 63,190 in February, and eventually to 64,050 clients in March and April. But it suffered drops in its prepaid mobile subscribers from 3,192,301 in December to 3,186,410 in March, which figure went up slightly to 3,189,947 in April. MTN’s total postpaid mobile telephone active subscribers reduced marginally from 50,836 in December last year to 50,829 in April. The telecom firm’s total prepaid subscriptions also reduced from 4,021,687 in December to 3,483,660 in April. The firm suffered over 15 per cent loss in active subscribers in December 2016, a situation it is yet to recover from, which has also seen its dominance eroded to 42 per cent, with Tigo and Airtel gaining ground with 39 per cent share and 19 per cent, respectively, of the market share.

Airtel has maintained a positive trend over the past five months (December-April) in its postpaid subscriptions. It had 1,930 subscribers in December 2016, 1,932 in January and February, and 2,000 active customers during the months of March and April. However, its prepaid clients went down to 1,585,758 in April from 1,594,455 in December 2016, according to the RURA report.

Commenting on the report yesterday, Sunny Ntayombya, the Tigo corporate communications and government relations manager, attributed the “steady growth of the telecom’s subscriber base to the innovative services and affordable tariffs it offers clients, which “have helped increase their digital and financial inclusion”.

“This also proves that we know what customers want. We are confident that our subscribers will have risen greatly by the end of the year,” he added.

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