Tigo Rwanda has managed to surpass the one million mobile phone subscription mark as it seeks to gain a foothold in a tight duopolistic marked race still dominated by MTN, latest statistics from the market regulator indicates. The two horse race shows that Tigo Rwanda, while playing catch-up made a 35 percent increment in its subscription rates under the period of review, still has to contend with MTN’s unrivalled position as voice leader whose increment is placed at a lower figure of 7 percent.
Despite witnessing a reduction in mobile phone subscription during the fourth month of the year, Rwanda has registered healthy growth in cell phone users by 10.5 to 4,125,033 by end of July from 3,730,226 in May.
According to figures from Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), the telecom regulator, mobile phone penetration in July increased to 38.4 percent up from 36.3 per cent in March this year but slid to 34.4 per cent in April before rising slightly to 36 per cent in May.
RURA statistics further indicate that MTN Rwanda remained the sector voice leader registering a 7 percent increase in mobile users to 2,824,875 by the end of July from 2,638,838 in May. However, its rival, Tigo Rwanda has registered a healthier growth rate of 34.5 percent in cell users. Presently, it had a total of 1,300,159 by the end of July up from 966,065 in May.
Tigo Rwanda’s Marketing Manager, Nina-Claudia Ndabaneze termed Tigo’s new feat as a great achievement for the telecoms firm.
“At Tigo, we are providing an offer that suits the average Rwandan telecoms' needs which is simply based on the fact that we listen to them and understand what they expect from us,” Ndabaneze explained.
Mathieu Dutrisac, a senior manager at Tigo Rwanda says that the trend witnessed in mobile phone penetration is similar to other countries especially where Tigo has a presence.
“The growth pattern in all countries is similar: slow growth up to 30-40 percent penetration”, followed by what he termed as the “hockey stick effect” where growth acceleration takes place.
“We've seen this in all the countries where Tigo is or was present. Thus, we believe that the near future is very bright for the growth of tele-density in Rwanda”.
Regarding its national coverage program, Tigo says that based on its license obligations, it strives to bring more people into its network which is expected to rise by 50 percent before the end of the year.
“We are constantly investing to bring network coverage to more and more people. By the end of the year, we will have increased the number of our cell sites by 50 percent,” Dutrisac added.
MTN on its part, attributes its current leadership streak to its new marketing programs it launched recently as well as what it termed as its unrivalled national network coverage, according to MTN’s Marketing Operations Manager, Robert Rwakabogo.
“Additional customers came in mostly during the recent EXPO where people bought more of our cheap handsets. Add also the network coverage of 99 percent that almost extends to the whole country and we have a winning combination,” Rwakabogo said.
However, MTN says that Tigo’s robust growth can be attributed mainly to a surge in dual sim card holders rather than entirely new subscribers.
“For instance, out of the 35 percent increment that Tigo managed to attract, we can say that roughly 25 percent also hold MTN sim cards, adding that in order to maintain its leadership position, MTN targets to reach 3 million users by the end of the year.
The second quarter results released by RURA indicates that there was a reduction in mobile phone penetration with active subscribers dropping by 46,824 users from 3,777,090 in March to 3,730,226 users in May with April recording only 3,589,057 users.
The decline in mobile phone penetration rate, according to industry experts, is mainly attributed to RURA’s decision to revoke Rwandatel’s GSM licence.
The latest statistics indicate that Tigo has managed to increase its market share by more than 12 percent basic points since March this year. RURA says that Tigo’s market share grew from 740,000 users representing a 19.7 percent since April to the current level of 31.5 percent with 1.3 million users.