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Gabon - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Merged Libertis and Moov change dynamics of Gabon's mobile sector

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 for 2015.

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 Emirates Telecommunications Corporation's (Etisalat's) Moov (sold to Maroc Telecom in May 2014) 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.

Key developments:

Maroc Telecom merges Gabon Telecom and Moov Gabon;
Gabon Telecom to build nationwide fibre network, deliver VoD services;
Regulator promotes MVNO market to maintain competition;
Axione contracted to extend and maintain national telecoms infrastructure;
MNOs begin registering SIM cards to comply with new regulations;
Airtel Gabon opens submarine link between Libreville and Port-Gentil;
Airtel Money service made available to BGFI Bank customers;
3G mobile licence finally awarded;
Libertis launches LTE services, secures new mobile licences;
Airtel Gabon launches commercial W-CDMA/HSPA+ service;
Report updates includes regulator's market data to Q4 2014, operator data to Q1 2015, recent market developments.

Estimated market penetration rates in Gabon's telecoms sector end-2015 (e)
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 194%
Fixed | 1.1%

Internet | 76%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

Companies mentioned in this report:

Gabon Telecom (Maroc Telecom, Libertis); Bharti Airtel (Zain); Moov (Telecel Gabon); Bintel (USAN, Azur); Internet Gabon; Solsi; 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 Télécom
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)
6.2.2 Congo-Gabon network
7. Broadband 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 2015 (e)
Table 3 Internet provider statistics 2015
Table 4 Internet and social media user statistics 2015 (e)
Table 5 Mobile statistics 2015 (e)
Table 6 National telecommunications authority
Table 7 Gabon Télécom fixed-line/internet vs. mobile revenue 2008 - 2014
Table 8 Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity 1999 - 2004
Table 9 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2005 - 2015
Table 10 International bandwidth 2002 - 2013
Table 11 Fixed-line internet users and penetration rate 2002 - 2015
Table 12 Fixed-line internet subscribers and penetration 2002 - 2015
Table 13 Fixed-line and mobile internet subscribers 2011 - 2015
Table 14 Mobile internet subscribers 2012 - 2015
Table 15 Fixed-line broadband subscribers and penetration 2003 - 2015
Table 16 Market share of internet subscribers 2013 - 2014
Table 17 Gabon Telecom internet subscribers 2007 - 2014
Table 18 DSL subscribers and penetration 2003 - 2015
Table 19 Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 1999 - 2004
Table 20 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 2005 - 2015
Table 21 Mobile market share by operator 2011 - 2014
Table 22 Mobile services revenue 2010 - 2014
Table 23 Zain Gabon subscribers 2002 - 2014
Table 24 Libertis subscribers 2007 - 2015
Table 25 Libertis mobile revenue 2011 - 2014
Table 26 Moov subscribers 2010 - 2015
Table 27 Azur subscribers 2010 - 2014
Chart 1 Gabon Télécom fixed-line/internet vs. mobile revenue 2008 2014
Chart 2 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2002 2015
Chart 3 Mobile subscribers in Gabon 2005 - 2015
Exhibit 1 New international submarine fibre optic cables in West Africa 2010 - 2012

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