This report provides information on Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal. Each country has its own chapter and covers the following subjects.
Fixed network Services
The countries in this group include some of Africa’s most liberalised telecommunications markets. Ghana led the way when it privatised its national operator as early as 1995, with Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal following in 1997 where France Telecom acquired stakes. Privatisation is on the agenda of most other countries in the region for the near future. With hundreds of service providers, including a second national operator (SNO), Nigeria is one of the continent’s largest and fastest growing markets and in the process of privatising its national telco, Nitel. A SNO licence will be auctioned in Senegal in 2006. All countries in this group have access to high-speed transmission capacity on fibre optic submarine cable networks linking them with each other and the rest of the world. Nevertheless, market penetration rates in most of them are below the African average, and extremely low in some cases. 15 countries in the region have agreed on a common regulatory framework for their national information technology and communications (ICT) markets, marking a significant step forward in seeking to create a single, harmonised market based on the European Union (EU) model. The new guidelines favour a market-based approach to the provision of communications services and are designed to spur investment and development in the West African region.
Despite having an old style posts and telecommunications entity and no independent regulator, Benin has four private mobile networks whose combined connections exceed fixed lines by around 7:1. While the country’s fixed-line infrastructure is completely digital, it serves only 1% of the population which has severely hindered adoption of the Internet. Several wireless broadband services have been launched, and the national telco has started wholesaling its ADSL broadband service. Moving into 2006, other envisaged sector changes include the unbundling of the national operator and privatisation of the resultant entity charged with provision of basic telecom services.
Despite ranking among the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso’s telecom operator re-invests in the network and has registered steady growth in its teledensity which accelerated sharply in 2004 following the deployment of fixed-wireless systems. Despite being landlocked, the country is linked to the SAT-3 submarine cable system via interconnections with four neighbouring countries. Mobile telephony has experienced outstanding growth in the past few years, with subscribers to the three digital networks outnumbering fixed lines in the country by more than 6:1. Moving into 2006, the telecom sector promises new opportunities for investment and network development. The incumbent telco’s monopoly came to an end in 2005 and the government plans its privatisation, the licensing of several new international gateway operators, rural operators and possibly a VoIP operator.
A political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire that turned into a civil war in 2002 has disrupted the country’s economy, but most segments of the telecommunications market continued to flourish. Three mobile operators were licensed in 1996, and despite the fact that one of them ceased operations in 2004, growth continued and there are now more than eight times as many mobile subscribers than fixed lines. Internet usage has experienced a major upswing, but owing to the high cost of access and poor availability of fixed-line infrastructure, Internet penetration remains low. The incumbent telco’s monopoly ended in 2004, a year of economic recovery for the country, paving the way for new players to enter the market.
Gambia has had a 100% digital network since 1995, but fixed-line penetration has remained low at less than 3%, which in turn has hindered Internet usage. This is expected to change with ambitious plans by Gamtel, the still government-owned incumbent telco, to multiply teledensity by 2008, making extensive use of wireless systems. The country’s two mobile networks - operated by Gamtel and Africell Gambia - together had over 220,000 subscribers in early 2006, representing a penetration rate of more than 14%, slightly above the African average. The recent award of Gambia’s second international licence is expected to lead to increased competition and lower prices.
Ghana is one of only a few African countries with a vastly liberalised telecom market. Annual growth has been impressive, notably in the mobile sector where four networks are competing for customers and the number of connections exceeds fixed lines by around 7:1. However, at a combined teledensity of little more than 10% and an Internet user penetration of less than 2%, enormous further potential exists. Rapid growth in the Internet sector in recent years is set to accelerate, driven by key developments expected in 2006 such as the licensing of several additional fixed-line operators, full legalisation of VoIP telephony and implementation of Broadband over Powerlines (BPL, PLC). The government is committed to continuing the privatisation of Ghana Telecom as well as the fibre network of the country’s electricity company, and the ailing SNO Westel, which also holds a mobile licence, will be up for sale soon.
Nigeria is one of the biggest and fastest growing telecom markets in Africa, attracting huge amounts of foreign investment, and is yet standing at very low levels of market penetration. The mobile sector, shared by four operators, has seen triple-digit growth rates every single year since competition was introduced in 2001. A second national operator (SNO) and four national long-distance operators have been licensed as well as over 200 other companies providing virtually all kinds of telecom and value-added services. The Internet sector has been hindered by the country’s underdeveloped and unreliable fixed-line infrastructure, but this is changing as competition intensifies and new technologies are able to deliver wireless broadband access. The current deployment of the country’s first Next Generation Networks (NGN) will drive further convergence of voice, data and video/TV, enabling the provision of triple-play services that will ultimately also involve the country’s already competitive broadcasting sector. Major events expected in 2006 include the possible conclusion of the stalled privatisation of Nitel, the incumbent telco, and a new unified licensing regime designed to increase competition between fixed and mobile network operators.
Senegal has developed one of Africa’s most extensive and modern telecommunications infrastructures. Liberalisation began in 1997 with the partial privatisation of the national operator Sonatel. The incumbent’s monopoly officially ended in 2004, and a second national operator (SNO) and third mobile operator are likely to be licensed in 2006. Mobile services were introduced in 1996 and competition in that sub-sector in 1999. Since the introduction of competition, the number of mobile subscribers has grown dramatically, with cellular lines now representing more than 85% of all telephone lines. Internet usage has doubled every year since 2003 when ADSL services were introduced. Overall market penetration is still low, resulting in attractive opportunities for new entrants.
Learn how to effectively navigate the market research process to help guide your organization on the journey to success.Download eBook