Telecom firms face huge challenge as subscriber numbers continue to drop

Local telecom firms will need to find new ways to attract more subscribers and keep those already on their networks following a sharp fall in the number of active mobile telephone subscriptions over the past five months.

Local telecom firms will need to find new ways to attract more subscribers and keep those already on their networks following a sharp fall in the number of active mobile telephone subscriptions over the past five months.

According to Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) monthly report for active mobile telephone subscriptions for May, there was a marginal drop in mobile phone penetration rate from 8.37 million mobile users in April to 8.35 million mobile customers as at the end of May. This indicates a decline of 0.28 per cent in the total number of active mobile subscribers during the month, which pushed the country’s penetration rate down a tad to 72.45 per cent from 72.65 per cent in April.

 

The country’s mobile phone penetration rate stood at 79.2 per cent or 8.9 million subscribers as at the end of December 2016. Therefore, the current 72.45 per cent penetration level of mobile telephones shows a big decline in the number of active mobile phone subscribers of the first five months of the year.

 

This was also lower than 72.88 per cent recorded at the end of the first quarter, according to the RURA Statistics and Tariff Information in Telecom, Media and Postal Service report for Q1.

 

The new report indicates that total postpaid users increased from 116,879 at the end of April to 118,853 at the end of May, while prepaid users decreased from 8.25 million customers in April to 8.23 million people at the end of last month.

Trend of monthly active mobile telephones

According to the RURA report, all the three telecom firm in the country lost subscribers in during the month of May.

The report indicates that MTN Rwanda’s postpaid subscribers inched lower marginally from 50,829 to 50,787 users in May, while its prepaid customers were down 0.45 per cent to 3.46 million clients from 3.48 million users, bringing the firm’s total number of active mobile users during the month to 3.51 million compared to 3.53 million people in April.

Tigo Rwanda had 66,065 postpaid subscribers, equivalent to a growth rate of 3.1 per cent, up from 64,050, while its prepaid mobile users dropped to 3.186 million from 3.189 million the previous month. The telecom’s overall number of active mobile phone users was also down slightly to 3,252 million from 3,253 million clients in April.

Airtel Rwanda’s postpaid mobile customers were almost constant, inching up by one individual to 2001 in May from 2,000 people in April.

The firm prepaid customers declined to 1.57 million from 1.58 million clients the previous month, leaving the total number of its active mobile numbers at 1.581 million or a 0.40 per cent drop during May.

The RURA report shows that there were 8,234,088 prepaid mobile users in May, with postpaid 118,853 subscribers.

Overall, the number of active subscribers during the month of May decreased to 8.35 million from 8.37 million users in April, indicating a 0.28 per cent decline during the month under review.

The sector watchdog calculates the penetration rate based on the projected medium population of 2016 that is recorded at over 11.5 million people.

Meanwhile, Tigo Rwanda has the largest market share for fixed telephony at 74 per cent, followed by MTN Rwanda with 18 per cent, Liquid Telecom 8 per cent, while Airtel has an insignificant market share, the RURA Statistics and Tariff Information in Telecom, Media and Postal Service report for Q1 shows.

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