The number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Mozambique has grown dramatically, implying an enormous increase in the past few years in the number of companies, institutions and individuals with internet access.

The general manager of the regulatory body, the Mozambican National Communications Institute (INCM), Luis Rego, told AIM that at the end of the 1990s, there was just one ISP in the country - the Eduardo Mondlane University. But today there are more than 20, in what has become an expanding and fiercely competitive market.

However, internet services are heavily concentrated in Maputo, with some of the ISPs reluctant to expand to smaller cities, on the grounds that the demand there is not sufficient, or the electricity supply is not reliable. The latter argument, however, no longer holds for any of the provincial capitals, which are all linked to the national electricity grid based on the Cahora Bassa dam.

Rego was speaking during a break in a Technical Telecommunications Meeting of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), held in Maputo to exchange experiences on regulatory matters, universal internet access, broad band, and satellite networks, among other questions.

It is difficult to establish how many Mozambicans use the internet. Clearly only a small minority have been able to purchase their own computers and thus have internet access at home. But many more can use the internet at their workplaces, or in the increasing number of Internet cafes dotted around the country.

The Eduardo Mondlane University estimates that 600,000 people (out of a total population of around 19 million) currently have Internet access.

The INCM hopes that more ISPs will provide services in the smaller towns. The leader in this field is the company Teledata, which now operates in all provincial capitals, and several districts.

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique