Mobile penetration to rise to 60% in 2012, RURA says

With the imminent entry of Bharti Airtel early next year, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) targets to increase mobile penetration to 60 per cent by the end of 2012, according to the latest figures.Rwanda’s mobile penetration rate had dropped to 34.4 per cent in April this year as RURA revoked Rwandatel’s GSM operating licence before rebounding to 39.6 per cent in August and ultimately rising to 40.2 per cent in September.
Mobile phone penetration rate is pegged at 60 percent by the end of next year. The New Times / File
Mobile phone penetration rate is pegged at 60 percent by the end of next year. The New Times / File

With the imminent entry of Bharti Airtel early next year, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) targets to increase mobile penetration to 60 per cent by the end of 2012, according to the latest figures.

Rwanda’s mobile penetration rate had dropped to 34.4 per cent in April this year as RURA revoked Rwandatel’s GSM operating licence before rebounding to 39.6 per cent in August and ultimately rising to 40.2 per cent in September.

RURA’s latest statistics suggest that active mobile phone subscribers increased to 4,304,532 in September up from 4,247,751 in August.

MTN Rwanda, the country’s leading telecom operator by market share registered a slight increase in voice users.

The giant added only 1.4 per cent on its network from 2,824,874 users in July to 2,865,835 in September.

Its rival TIGO Rwanda added 10.6 per cent to its family from 1,300,159 to 1,438,697 users.

The Director General of RURA, Regis Gatarayiha, told Business Times in a phone interview that with the entry of another player next year, the body targets 60 per cent penetration increase by the end of 2012.

“We experienced a penetration drop immediately after Rwandatel’s licence revocation but the figures went up the following month. Currently, we are registering more than 2 per cent penetration increase every month,” Gatarayiha explained.

He further noted that the sector has managed to register the growth through continuous competition between the operators.

“Both operators have been engaged in stiff competition, introducing new promotions which have attracted more users on each other’s network.”

Subscriber penetration has also been pushed by the increased network coverage across the country, Gatarayiha said.

“The move by the two operators comes especially after the licensing of the third operator.

Both operators immediately increased their network coverage around the country,” he said, adding that both TIGO and MTN moved in to consolidate their respective market shares before the commercial launch of Airtel.

Competition is expected to be solid when Airtel starts its operations.

In a phone interview, the Executive Chairman of Altech Stream Rwanda told Business Times that RURA’s target of 60 per cent penetration rate by 2012 is attainable.

“...the dream is good and (the) tele-density should go up. However, it should be a combined target which is called triple play, meaning data, voice and video,” he urged.

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