Why conflict-torn Central African Republic has big telecoms potential


Voice services are expected to dominate conflict torn nation the Central African Republic's (CAR) mobile market over the next five years, according to a research report.

The report titled "Central African Republic Mobile Telecom Market: Political Instability Threatens Revenue and VAS Growth" was compiled by Pyramid Research.

And according to the research firm, the CAR's mobile market generated total revenue of an estimated $71 million, mainly driven by voice services.

With four main operators namely Azur (Bintel), Moov (Etisalat), Orange and Telecel (Global Telecom) the CAR has a SIM penetration rate of 36%, according to the GSMA. The country has a population of close to 4.6 million, according to the World Bank.

"Voice services accounted for the largest share... growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.5% to $101 million in 2018, from $67 million in 2013," states the report.

The research firm also expects data services in the CAR to increase to $17 million in 2018, from $4 million in 2013, growing at a CAGR of 32%.

“Investment in data services has been a focus for some operators. Orange for example has launched 3G in Bangui,” reads the report.

However, Pyramid notes that “investment by other operators is likely to be stalled due to economic uncertainties.”

The report says that the country's economic situation and demographics, as well as political developments, have made voice services a priority for users.

The African nation has been dogged by violent unrest since 2012, which has resulted in hundreds of killings, acts of rape, sexual slavery and destruction of properties, according to reports.

Fighting in the CAR has been the result of clashes between Christian and Muslim militias. The CAR is currently being led by former Bangui mayor Catherine Samba-Panza as interim president after a Muslim rebel leader who took power in March 2012 stepped aside.