The Afghanistan - Telecoms, Mobile, Internet & Forecasts report includes all BuddeComm research data and analysis on this country. Covering trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, internet, broadband, infrastructure and regulation. Please review the Executive Summary and Table of Contents for more details.
Afghanistan is building some positive momentum in its effort to put national telecom infrastructure in place and to offer effective telecom service throughout the country. The process involved in achieving, however, this has not been altogether smooth. The 2001 war in Afghanistan destroyed telecommunications infrastructure that had already been suffering serious disrepair due to neglect by the Taliban government. The nation’s network of telephone lines was left barely functioning. There were only 12,000 telephones in the capital city, Kabul, with its population of almost 2 million residents.
In 1998, electricity was restored in a few buildings in Kabul and some fixed telephone lines dating back to the 1950s were reconnected in the capital and in Kandahar, via manual exchanges in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, and the Pakistani border town of Quetta. Typically, the few telephone services that were in place had not been maintained for 20 years. Setting up an international call could take hours. There existed the remnants of two basic fixed networks, one dating to the Soviet occupation in 1979, the other a newer, Chinese-built system. By end-2003, it was estimated that there were a total 37,000 fixed lines in the country, with about 20,000 to be found in the capital, Kabul.
In an important strategic move, the government announced in May 2005 that licences were to be issued to allow the private sector to establish independent telephone companies. This initiative was called the Local Fixed Services Plan (LFSP). The main objectives of the LFSP licences were to facilitate faster rollout of services to small towns and rural areas and to provide an investment opportunity for small-medium local investors across the country.
The other major impact on telecommunications in Afghanistan came with the introduction and subsequent expansion of the mobile telephone service. Growing off a low subscriber base, in 2003 the country’s mobile network operated exclusively at the time by the Afghan Wireless Communications Company (AWCC) started to attract customers at an extraordinary rate. The launch of a second mobile service, operated by Roshan, boosted the market even further and strong subscriber growth continued through 2004 and into 2005.
Coming into 2009, there were four mobile operators competing in Afghanistan’s telecom sector and they were claiming a total of 10.5 million subscribers between them with an overall mobile penetration of 36%. All four were carrying market shares in excess of 20%.
Afghanistan - key telecom parameters - 2008 - 2009
Total number of subscribers101,000120,000
Fixed-line penetration (population)0.4%0.4%
Fixed-line penetration (household)2.7%3.1%
Total number of subscribers (e)55,00065,000
Internet subscriber penetration (population)0.2%0.2%
Internet subscriber penetration (household)1.4%1.7%
Total number of subscribers10.5 million16 million
Mobile penetration (population)36%52%