Market conditions in each of Burundi, Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are broadly similar, with mobile markets highly prepaid-focused and advanced non-voice (ie, nonmessaging) data services largely absent. 3G migration is well advanced, however, and 4G services are beginning to be rolled out. Low consumer incomes, limited spending powers and weak levels of domestic demand, as well as volatile political, economic and security environments, weigh on potential returns on investment. Viettel's launch in Burundi shows there is scope for new players, albeit only for those willing to take the risk. The wireline sector is weak and incumbent-dominated in all three markets, although there are the first signs of competition in Burundi. Mobile broadband accounts for nearly all the countries' broadband subscriptions as fixed providers are hampered by lack of infrastructure and the high cost of international bandwidth. Looking ahead, we note that there is long-term organic growth in the three markets, but premium service upselling remains depressed due to macroeconomic weaknesses.
Latest Updates And Industry Developments
We have amended our forecasts for the mobile sector in all three markets, raising the forecast slightly in the DRC as quarterly losses decreased by the end of 2016. Nevertheless, we note that the DRC saw strong mobile market growth in the first two quarters of 2017, suggesting that organic growth in the mobile market remains steady.