Home to one of the world's most isolated cities, the fabled Timbuktu, and with a generally challenging geography for the provision of telecommunication services, Mali has market penetration rates below African averages in all market sectors except mobile where it is now racing towards the 100% mark. The division of the country during 2012 with Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda controlling the north cast some uncertainty over future developments, but the recent intervention by French and African troops has resolved the situation at least in the short term. The economy contracted in 2012, but GDP growth has recovered and is expected to remain stable at between 5% and 6% from 2014 onwards.
Orange (France Telecom) was extremely successful when it entered the market as the second mobile and fixed-line operator in 2003. The company quickly amassed more than 80% market share, offering converged fixed, mobile and broadband Internet services.
The national telco, Sotelma with its mobile subsidiary Malitel was privatised in 2009 when a 51% stake was sold to Maroc Telecom. The fresh capital and management has enabled the incumbent to compete much more aggressively and regain market share.
A third mobile operator was licensed in 2012, but the local partner defaulted on its share of the licence fee, putting the joint venture in limbo. Building for the network was only begun in 2014. Despite the high mobile penetration in the country, enormous potential exists in the development of mobile broadband services. The introduction of basic mobile data services as well as ADSL and WiMAX has started to accelerate growth in the internet and broadband market, but Mali's landlocked location makes it dependent on neighbouring countries for international fibre bandwidth, which has kept prices high. Improvements in this sector can be expected from the recent arrival of several new competitive international submarine fibre optic cables in the region.
Delays in Alpha Telecom Mali launching mobile service encourage government to consider issuing a fourth licence; Work starts on $27.4 million terrestrial fibre cable linking Mali with Mauritania, Morocco, Burkina Faso and Niger. Orange Mali and Ecobank develop m-banking facilities; Sonatel begins project to upgrade its network infrastructure; Operators sell cell towers infrastructure; Third mobile licence awarded to Alpha Telecom but operator is slow to deploy its network; New WiMAX network launches; Mobile penetration broaches 100%; Aidou Telecom preps to launch as an MVNO; New international fibre connections improve broadband connectivity; Report update includes the regulator's market data for 2013, telcos' operating data for 2014, recent market developments.
Estimated market penetration rates in Mali's telecoms sector end-2015 (e) Market | Penetration rate Mobile | 139% Fixed | 0.8% Internet | 2.8% (Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Companies mentioned in this report:
Société des Télécommunications du Mali (Sotelma, Maroc Telecom, Vivendi); Orange Mali (Ikatel, France Telecom); Monaco Telecom; Planor Afrique; Afribone; CEFIB; Datatech.
This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Mali's telecommunications market.
Subjects covered include:
Key statistics; Market and industry overviews; The impact of the global economic crisis; Government policies affecting the telecoms industry; Market liberalisation and regulatory environment; Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband); Telecoms operators privatisation, acquisitions, new licences; Infrastructure development; Mobile voice and data markets; Average Revenue per User; Internet and broadband development and growth; Broadband and mobile data services and pricing trends; Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile).