Burundi - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Burundi - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Given its high population density and the low penetration rates across all telecom sectors, Burundi remains potentially one of the most attractive telecom markets in Africa for investors. Nevertheless, investor reticence is still evident given the country's low economic output and the fact that outside the main urban areas fixed-line infrastructure remains poor. Compounding these practical difficulties is the continuing political turmoil which can has rendered the investment environment problematic.
To overcome difficulties associated with the poor telecom infrastructure the government, supported by the Word Bank, has backed a joint venture with a number of prominent telcos to build a national fibre backbone network, offering onward connectivity to submarine cable infrastructure landings in Kenya and Tanzania. The first sections of this network were switched on in early 2014, and additional provinces have since been connected. In addition, the government in early 2018 kick-started the Burundi Broadband project, which aims to deliver national connectivity by 2025. Based on this improved infrastructure the government and ITU have developed an ICT strategy to make use of telecoms to promote the country's socio-economic development through to 2028.
International bandwidth increased almost five-fold between 2014 and the end of 2017, resulting in lower retail prices for consumers. There have also been efforts to encourage the country's ISPs to join the national IXP in a bid to cannel internet traffic locally and thus reduce the cost of providing services to end-users.
Two of the mobile operators have launched 3G and LTE services to capitalise on the growing demand for internet access. The number of mobile subscribers grew rapidly for several years, and though this slowed in 2016 there were about 6.6 million subscribers as of early 2020. Mobile penetration, approaching 60%, remains low by regional standards, suggesting considerable room for further growth. A new player, Viettel Group, which received a licence to provide mobile services in early 2014, launched 2G and 3G services in June 2015 and LTE services in February 2016. It soon became the leading player in the country, with an extensive fibre-backhaul network which it can use to provide fixed-line services.
The long-established plans to privatise the national telco Onatel (which also operates one of the mobile networks), have been delayed several times, but the government since 2013 has made efforts to kick-start the process.
BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.
Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.
The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

Government launches e-health project, progresses with its Broadband Burundi 2025 project;
Lumitel providing national LTE coverage;
ICT program launched to promote socio-economic development;
Mobile subscriber penetration approaches 60%;
Report update includes the regulators market data to Q4 2019, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Office National des Telecommunications (Onatel, Onamob); U-Com (Orascom, Telecel Globe, Leo); VTEL Holdings (Tempo, Africell Safaris); Econet Wireless Burundi (Spacetel); LaCell SU (Smart Burundi); Renaissance Capital; BNP Paribas; Millenium Finance; Linkstone Capital.


1 Key statistics
2 Regional Market Comparison
2.1 TMI vs GDP
2.2 Mobile and mobile broadband
2.3 Fixed and mobile broadband
3 Country overview
4 COVID-19 and its impact on the telecom sector
4.1 Economic considerations and responses
4.2 Mobile devices
4.3 Subscribers
4.4 Infrastructure
5 Telecommunications market
6 Regulatory environment
7 Mobile market
7.1 Mobile statistics
7.2 Mobile broadband
7.3 Major mobile operators
7.4 Mobile content and applications
8 Broadband market
8.1 Broadband statistics
9 Fixed network operators
10 Telecommunications infrastructure
10.1 Overview of the national telecom network
11 Appendix Historic data
12 Glossary of abbreviations
13 Related reports
Table 1 Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities - Burundi 2020 (e)
Table 2 Development of telecom market revenue by sector 2008 2018
Table 3 Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration 2010 2025
Table 4 Development of mobile market revenue (BIF) 2011 2018
Table 5 Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration 2011 2025
Table 6 Growth in the number of Econet's mobile subscribers 2012 2019
Table 7 Growth in the number of Lumitel's mobile subscribers 2015 2019
Table 8 Growth in the number of Smart Telecom's mobile subscribers 2013 2019
Table 9 Change in the number of Onamob's mobile subscribers 2013 2019
Table 10 Growth in the number of mobile money users and penetration 2016 2019
Table 11 Value of mobile money transactions (registered users) 2016 2019
Table 12 Growth in the number of m-money agents 2017 2019
Table 13 Growth in the number of internet users 2010 2019
Table 14 Growth in the number of fixed broadband subscribers 2008 2019
Table 15 Increase in internet market revenue 2011 2019
Table 16 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2010 2019
Table 17 International internet bandwidth 2010 2019
Table 18 Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity 1999 2009
Table 19 Historic Fixed internet users and penetration rate 1999 2009
Table 20 Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 1999 2009
Table 21 Historic - International internet bandwidth 2004 2009
Table 22 Historic - Fixed internet users and penetration rate 2010 2016
Table 23 Historic - Internet users 2006 2009
Table 24 Historic - Mobile market investment (BIF) 2011 2016
Chart 1 Overall Africa view - Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita
Chart 2 East Africa - Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita
Chart 3 Africa Bottom-tier Telecoms Maturity Index (Market Emergents)
Chart 4 East Africa Telecoms Maturity Index by country 2018
Chart 5 East Africa mobile subscriber penetration versus mobile broadband penetration
Chart 6 East Africa fixed and mobile penetration rates
Chart 7 Development of telecom market revenue by sector ($ million) 2008 2018
Chart 8 Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration 2010 2025
Chart 9 Development of mobile market revenue 2011 2018
Chart 10 Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration 2013 2025
Chart 11 Growth in the number of Econet's mobile subscribers 2012 2019
Chart 12 Growth in the number of Lumitel's mobile subscribers 2015 2019
Chart 13 Growth in the number of Smart Telecom's mobile subscribers 2013 2019
Chart 14 Change in the number of Onamob's mobile subscribers 2013 2019
Chart 15 Growth in the number of mobile money users and penetration 2016 2019
Chart 16 Value of mobile money transactions (registered users) 2016 2019
Chart 17 Growth in the number of internet users 2010 2019
Chart 18 Growth in the number of fixed broadband subscribers 2008 2019
Chart 19 Increase in internet market revenue 2011 2019
Chart 20 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2010 2019
Exhibit 1 Generalised Market Characteristics by Market Segment
Exhibit 2 East Africa - Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country
Exhibit 3 Map of Burundi

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