Rwanda has registered a healthy growth in cell phone users with the country’s three telecom operators adding some 1.2 million subscribers in 2010, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency has said.
Mobile subscribers clocked to 3.6 million by January this year from 2.4 million in January in 2010 even though the country has the second lowest mobile penetration in EAC after Burundi.
Latest statistics from RURA show that MTN Rwanda is still the market leader with 2,587,694 active mobile subscribers followed by Tigo Rwanda with 692,950 and Rwandatel with 345,771. The figures suggest that overall mobile phone penetration rose by 1 percentage point to 35 percent.
RURA’s Director General, Regis Gatarayiha told Business Times the figures were attained after the entry of Tigo in December 2009.
“During the course, there has been aggressive and innovative promotions, which reduced calling tariffs and attracted more users on different networks,” Gatarayiha explained.
He added that new promotions by Tigo and Rwandatel attracted new subscribers, forcing MTN Rwanda to respond.
Rwanda is expected to hit 6 million subscribers by 2015, he said.
“We are making efforts to remove bottlenecks which will make operators look for more subscribers,” he added.
The official said RURA has put, on hold, a project, where it was pushing for operators to provide cheaper handsets. The decision was reached after government waived import duties on handsets.
The regulator was working with the three operators to have an arrangement which would have seen handsets reduced from Rwf8,000 to Rwf2,000 the cheapest.
RURA intended to make a contribution of 50 percent of the total cost of the handset with the operator contributing 30 percent and the user 20 percent.