Mobile Subscribers Reach 2.4 Million in Rwanda


Rwanda's telecom industry registered a healthy growth in 2009 with the number of mobile subscribers hitting 2.4 million, according to Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA). RURA said the growth was driven by Tigo's entry which boosted the mobile space by some 123,897 active subscribers from 2 million subscribers towards the end of 2009.

"With Tigo's launch, we are yet to see a rapid increase in subscriber numbers," Col. Diogene Mudenge, RURA's Director General told Business Times. Statistics by RURA show that as of January 16, 2010 MTN Rwanda's mobile subscribers had reached 1.8m, Rwandatel 487,250 and Tigo 123,897.

"Rwandatel had a slowdown after a rapid start in acquiring more subscribers but now they have picked up again," Mudenge said. Mudenge also attributed the increase in the number of mobile subscribers to the introduction of new interesting promotions and other services by MTN Rwanda and Rwandatel. Rwanda expects to hit six million subscribers by 2015.

RURA, which is the national telecom regulator, says that they are pushing for cheaper handsets from the operators. "We are working with the three operators to have a combine arrangement which will see handsets reduced from Rwf8,000 to Rwf2,000," Mudenge said. The regulator intends to make a contribution of 50 percent of the total cost of the handset while an operator contributes 30 percent and the end user 20 percent.

"We are in negotiations with Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) to see if they can give loans to people who will buy these phones," Mudenge explained. He added that Rwanda is seeking to issue a fourth licence in the near future. "The third operator has to first acquire about 300,000 subscribers then we can issue out the bidding process for another operator," Mudenge said.

The New Times