Benin now connected to the ACE submarine cable system
Although the telecom market in Benin continues to face considerable hurdles given the country's poor fixed-line infrastructure, recent developments suggest that the sector will be transformed in coming years. Much of this transformation is due to improved international internet connectivity and the rapidly escalating bandwidth available. This is encouraging the deployment of widely available and cheaper services than hitherto. Encouraged by these developments, operators have continued to invest in mobile services which in turn are supporting a range of mobile data applications including m-commerce. Improved telecoms infrastructure has the potential to transform many areas of the country's economy, bringing a greater proportion of the population into the orbit of internet commerce and connectivity.
The third submarine cable system, which came online in 2012, has substantially reduced the cost of international bandwidth. The fixed-line monopoly operator be.Telecoms (rebranded from Benin Telecoms in October 2015) has also expanded its fixed-wireless and DSL-based broadband services in recent years, extending its national fibre backbone and international fibre connections. Long-established plans to privatise the company have thus far come to nought, though the government is developing its strategy to sell of the company's assets, including the mobile services unit Libercom which will be spun off as a new entity with separate assets.
The mobile telephony sector enjoys effective competition between Libercom, South Africa's MTN, Etisalat's Moov, Globacom's Glo Mobile, and Bell Benin. Competition among these players pushed market penetration above 100% by mid-2014.
Although fixed-line internet services have been available in Benin since 1995, access is limited a small proportion of the population. Fixed-line internet represents less that 10% of all accesses, with most connections being made via the mobile networks.
The country's first licence for 3G and 4G mobile broadband services was awarded in early 2012. In May 2013 the government launched a tender for Universal Service Licenses'. In the following month licenses were awarded to MTN and Etisalat's Moov. The licences are technology neutral, enabling the operators to offer services based on 3G, LTE and mobile WiMAX technologies.
The vast majority of mobile subscribers are prepaid, with contract subscribers representing only about 0.4% of the total subscriber base.
Estimated market penetration by service end-2014 Market | Penetration rate Mobile | 102% Fixed | 1.7% Internet | 11.8% (Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Benin's connection to the ACE submarine network inaugurated; Benin Telecom rebrands as be.Telecoms; Regulator commissions report on the introduction of MNP; MTN Benin signs five-year Managed Rural Coverage deal with Ericsson; Orange commissions new connection from the ACE submarine cable, connecting Benin with Tenerife; Etisalat Group completes sale of Atlantique Telecom (Moov) operations to Maroc Telecom; be.Telecoms preps for LTE service launch; Orange enters talks to acquire Libercom; Etisalat Moov launches 3G services, introduces its Flous' m-commerce service; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donate funds to a mobile vaccine registry program; Regulator renamed as the Autorité de Regulation des Communications et de la Poste (ARCEP); Report update includes telcos' operating data to Q2 2015, regulator's market data to June 2015, recent market developments.