Northern Africa is home to some of the most developed telecom markets on the continent and features some of the world’s fastest growing fixed-line markets in Sudan and Egypt. All countries in this group except for landlocked Chad have well developed fixed-line infrastructures and direct access to international submarine fibre optic cables, and all but Chad and Libya are among the relatively few African countries offering commercial ADSL services. Tunisia has the highest overall teledensity in the region thanks to its booming mobile market. The IPOs of Maroc Telecom in 2004 and Telecom Egypt in 2005 were heavily oversubscribed. Privatisation of the PTOs in Algeria and Tunisia are planned for 2006 and is also on the near-term agenda in Chad. Alternative fixed-line operators have been licensed in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan, and new mobile licences are expected in Egypt and Morocco in 2006, including concessions for Third Generation (3G) mobile services. 3G will also be launched in Algeria, Libya and Sudan.
Algeria’s mobile market exceeded all expectations in 2005 when it continued to grow by around 200% for the fourth year in a row and soared past the 40% market penetration mark. The countrys fixed-line market lags behind the other relatively affluent North African countries, but accelerated developments in this sector can be expected in 2006 resulting from the upcoming privatisation of the countrys incumbent telco, Algerie Telecom, the recently licensed second fixed-line operator and seven VoIP Internet telephony providers. Improved fixed-line infrastructure will also stimulate the countrys underdeveloped Internet market, as will the introduction of 3G mobile technology which is currently being trialed.
The recent discovery of oil, resulting in a 38% GDP growth, is set to bring Chad lsome of the foreign investment it urgently needs to upgrade its telecom facilities and other infrastructure. The country has some of the worlds lowest penetration rates for fixed-line, mobile and Internet services. Competition exists only in the mobile sector. Despite impressive growth, one of the then two mobile networks in the country ceased operations in mid-2004 due to an unresolved dispute with the government, but a third licence was awarded in November of the same year with operations commencing in October 2005. Internet usage increased fourfold in 2004. Other expected developments moving into 2006 include the partial privatisation of the national operator, Sotel Tchad.
Egypt's telecom sector is performing consistently well with most sub-sectors being open to competition. Around 3,000 new fixed lines are installed in the country every day, which has helped to reduce the waiting list by around 90% in recent years. The incumbent telco, Telecom Egypt, is highly profitable and was partially privatised through an IPO at the end of 2005. The end of its fixed-line monopoly in 2006 will open up new opportunities for competitive service providers, as will the award of a third mobile licence which will include a concession to provide both 2G and 3G mobile services. Egypt has the fourth largest mobile market in Africa and the largest Internet market on the continent. VoIP Internet telephony has been liberalised, residential ADSL2+ broadband services have been introduced, and several companies are rolling out Next Generation Networks (NGN) to provide converged voice and data services.
Libya is emerging from almost two decades of economic isolation, which contributed to the stagnation of its oil industry, the mainstay of its economy, and invariably its telecoms sector. It is now taking steps to introduce more relaxed market policies with a view to attracting foreign participation in key sectors including telecommunications. Despite the economic isolation and having an old style monopoly player for the provision of posts and telecommunications services, its fixed-line network is superior to those in many other African countries. In sharp contrast, the mobile sub-sector remained underdeveloped, but growth has been accelerating with the introduction of a second GSM network in 2004. 3G mobile technology is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2006.
Since sector reforms were instituted in the 1990s, Morocco’s telecom market has experienced excellent growth. The chief contributor has been the mobile sector where competition was introduced in 2000, driving the number of subscribers past the 12 million mark during 2005, compared with less than 400,000 in 1999. In sharp contrast, the fixed network has declined since 1999 but has been seeing a recovery since 2003, driven by soaring demand for Internet access and ADSL broadband services. The recent award of a second and third fixed-line licence, the latter including a limited mobility concession, will provide further stimulus to the sector. Incumbent operator, Maroc Telecom was partially privatised in 2001 and floated on the Paris and Casablanca stock exchanges in 2004, being 50 times oversubscribed. Two 3G mobile licences are expected in 2006 and the sale of a further 25% of Maroc Telecom in 2007.
With a CAGR of around 40% since the late 1990s, Sudan represents the by far fastest growing fixed telephony market not only in Africa but worldwide. Annual telecommunications investment has skyrocketed from only US$500,000 in 1994 to over US$100 million. Enormous further potential exists since the countrys market penetration is still only around 3% for fixed-line and Internet usage and 5% for mobile services. ADSL broadband services were introduced in 2004, a second mobile network commenced operations in July 2005 and a second fixed-line operator in November. The majority stake in the countrys leading mobile network was sold in early-2006 for a record price. Under a recent peace agreement, the oil-rich south of the country which has been beyond the central governments control and deprived of development, is now establishing its own independent telecommunications regime, creating huge new opportunities for service providers and equipment suppliers.
As a result of heavy investments in the telecom sector since the mid-1990s, Tunisia now has one of the most developed telecommunications infrastructures in Northern Africa with a fixed-line teledensity of more than 12% and mobile penetration exceeding 50%. The mobile sector has experienced exceptional growth, especially since a second operator was licensed in 2002. Various 3G trial systems have been installed and as one of the first in Africa the country saw its first 3G call made in 2004. Internet access is available country-wide with a fibre optic backbone and international access via submarine cables, terrestrial and satellite links. In 2006 the focus is on the privatisation of a 35% stake in the incumbent telco, Tunisie Telecom, in which 14 international companies have shown interest.
This report provides information on Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. Each country has its own chapter and covers the following subjects.
Learn how to effectively navigate the market research process to help guide your organization on the journey to success.Download eBook