Gabon - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Gabon - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

4G services expected by mid-2014

This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Gabon's telecommunications market.

Subjects covered include:

One of the most penetrated mobile markets in Africa;
Key statistics;
Market and industry overviews;
Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
Telecoms operators privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
Infrastructure development;
Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
Internet and broadband development and growth;
Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile).
Mobile voice and data markets;
Average revenue per user.

Gabon remains one of the wealthiest nations in Africa, with the economy largely buttressed by oil revenue. GDP per capita is well above the African average, although a distorted income distribution and poor social indicators are evident. GDP growth of over 6% annually is anticipated through to 2015 at least.

The telecom market was liberalised in 1999 when the government awarded three mobile telephony licences and two Internet Service Provider (ISP) licences and established an independent regulatory authority. Following two unsuccessful attempts, Gabon Telecom was privatised in 2007 when Vivendi-controlled Maroc Telecom bought a 51% stake in the operator.

With competition between three service providers Zain (formerly Celtel, now Bharti Airtel), Gabon Telecom's Libertis, and Etisalat's Moov Gabon became one of the first countries in Africa to exceed 100% mobile market penetration in 2008. Recently the regulator adjusted its recording of mobile penetration, based on a standard adopted by the French telecom regulator, to account for multiple SIM card use among subscribers. Network operators have been able to maintain higher Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) than their peers in the region.

The 2009 entry of a fourth network, USAN (operated by Bintel under the brand name Azur) into a saturated market triggered a price war that saw revenues and profits dive, forcing the operators to streamline their operations and to look for new income streams. Following more than a year of delays, a licence to offer 3G mobile broadband services was finally awarded in late 2011. Capacity on newly landed submarine cables was negotiated with Gabon Telecom to expedite the deployment of 3G services, which are not expected to be launched until the end of 2013.

In contrast with the mobile market, Gabon's fixed-line and internet/broadband sectors have remained underdeveloped due to a lack of competition and the resulting high prices. The country has always had sufficient international bandwidth on the SAT-3/WASC/SAFE fibre-optic submarine cable which runs from Portugal via South Africa to the Far East, but this facility has been monopolised by Gabon Telecom. The recent arrival of a second international submarine fibre optic cable (ACE), combined with the anticipated launch of 3G mobile broadband services is expected to bring significant improvements to this sector in coming years.

Market highlights:

One of the highest levels of mobile penetration and ARPU in Africa;
3G mobile licence finally awarded, services expected by end-2013;
Second international fibre optic cable lands;
Profiles of major players in all market sectors;
Libertis launches Mobi Cash mobile payments platform;
Libertis aiming to launch 4G services by mid-2014; mobile services reaching 95% of the population, secures new mobile licences from the government;
Airtel Gabon launches a commercial W-CDMA/HSPA+ service in Libreville;
Regulator's market updates to Q2 2013, operator data to Q4 2013, market developments to May 2014.

Estimated market penetration rates in Gabon's telecoms sector end-2013
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 109%
Fixed | 1.0%
Internet | 9.2%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

Companies covered in this report:

Gabon Telecom (Maroc Telecom, Libertis);
Bharti Airtel (Zain);
Moov (Telecel Gabon);
Bintel (USAN, Azur);
Internet Gabon;
IBN Corporate.

1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Market analysis
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Historical background
4.2 Regulatory authority
4.2.1 Authorité de Regulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes (ARCEP)
4.3 Market liberalisation
4.4 Interconnection
5. Fixed network operator
5.1 Gabon Telecom
5.1.1 Privatisation
5.1.2 Financial results
5.1.3 National telecom network
5.1.4 Fixed-line statistics
6. International infrastructure
6.1 Submarine fibre
6.1.1 SAT-3/WASC
6.1.2 ACE
6.1.3 Other projects
6.2 Terrestrial fibre
6.2.1 The Central African Backbone (CAB)
7. Broadband and internet market
7.1 Overview
7.1.1 Internet statistics
7.2 ISP market
7.2.1 Gabon Telecom
7.2.2 Internet Gabon
7.2.3 Solsi
7.3 Broadband market
7.3.1 ADSL
7.3.2 WiMAX
7.4 VoIP
8. Mobile communications
8.1 Overview of Gabon's mobile market
8.1.1 Mobile statistics
8.2 Major mobile operators
8.2.1 Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain, Celtel)
8.2.2 Libertis (Gabon Telecom)
8.2.3 Moov (Télécel Gabon)
8.2.4 Azur (USAN, Bintel)
8.3 High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA)
8.4 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
8.5 Mobile payments
8.6 Mobile satellite services
9. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics Gabon 2013 (e)
Table 2 Fixed-line network statistics 2013 (e)
Table 3 Internet provider statistics 2013
Table 4 Internet and social media user statistics 2013 (e)
Table 5 Mobile statistics 2013 (e)
Table 6 National telecommunications authority
Table 7 Gabon Télécom fixed-line/internet vs. mobile revenue 2008 - 2013
Table 8 Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity 1999 - 2004
Table 9 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2005 - 2014
Table 10 Fixed-line internet users and penetration rate 2002 - 2013
Table 11 Fixed-line internet subscribers and penetration 2002 - 2014
Table 12 Fixed-line and mobile internet subscribers 2011 - 2013
Table 13 Broadband subscribers and penetration 2003 - 2013
Table 14 Gabon Telecom internet subscribers 2007 - 2013
Table 15 Broadband subscribers and penetration 2003 - 2013
Table 16 Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 1999 - 2004
Table 17 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 2005 - 2014
Table 18 Zain Gabon subscribers and ARPU 2002 - 2012
Table 19 Libertis subscribers 2007 - 2013
Table 20 Libertis mobile revenue 2011 - 2013
Table 21 Moov subscribers 2010 - 2012
Table 22 Azur subscribers 2010 - 2012
Chart 1 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2002 2014
Chart 2 Mobile subscribers in Gabon 2005 - 2014
Exhibit 1 New international submarine fibre optic cables in West Africa 2010 - 2012

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