Rwanda’s telecom sector has started to feel the setbacks of Rwandatel’s exit as a third mobile phone operator, with Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) saying it might not hit its six million mobile subscriber target by 2012.
RURA’s, Director General, Regis Gatarayiha whose institution revoked Rwandatel’s cell phone operating licence, early last week, told Business Times that mobile penetration might be affected if no measures are taken.
In an effort to avoid the setback, he said, the regulator plans to issue a third mobile operating licence.
“We are waiting to see how the market responds; our target might be affected as we are waiting to offer a third operating licence,” Gatarayiha said in a phone interview, yesterday.
Latest statistics from RURA indicated that Rwandatel had 345,771 mobile subscribers. However on April 8, its 3G mobile users were disconnected.
“Loyal Rwandatel subscribers will rush to switch to other operators but others will just drop them and remain with other lines they have been using,” he said, adding that migrating phone users to either MTN and TIGO will help the regulator get the right signal on subscribers loyal to each operator.
According to RURA, Rwanda has about 3.62 million mobile phone subscribers, with MTN Rwanda as the market leader with 2,587,694 million while TIGO Rwanda has 692,950. The country has 32 percent mobile penetration, the second lowest in the East African Community region after Burundi.
Gatarayiha mentioned that Rwandatel can still bid for the license when government calls for bids.
“Rwandatel is free to bid again through the bidding process but this time it must be a convincing and stronger bid,” he informed.
However, Rwandatel’s, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Gbeu Tia Florentin, told Business Times the company was not planning to appeal RURA’s decision to revoke the operator’s mobile licence.