North and South Sudan, two very different markets
This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Sudan’s telecommunications market.
Subjects covered include:
Market and industry overviews;
The impact of the global economic crisis;
Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
Infrastructure development, including fibre;
Mobile voice and data markets, including 3G;
Internet and broadband development and growth;
Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile);
Mobile data services, including 3G broadband;
Average Revenue per User (ARPU).
Following a referendum, oil-rich South Sudan became the world’s youngest independent state in mid-2011. Having been beyond the central government’s control and deprived of development, it is establishing its own independent telecommunications regime, creating new opportunities for service providers and equipment suppliers.
Three quarters of the population are in the North where mobile market penetration is much higher, but the average revenue per user (APRU) is higher in the South. The North has a large, relatively well-equipped telecommunications system by regional standards, including a national fibre optic backbone and international fibre connections.
The national telco, Sudatel has been privatised more than a decade ago, with major shares and management control now held by Etisalat of the UAE and Qatar Telecom. It is also listed on several regional stock exchanges. The company presided over the world’s fastest growing fixed-line market until it started substituting traditional copper lines with CDMA2000 fixed-wireless access in 2005.
Competition in the fixed-line market comes from Canartel which, interestingly, is also majority-owned by Etisalat. It too opted for CDMA2000 technology to cost effectively roll out fixed services and, like Sudatel, is offering wireless broadband services through this network following an upgrade to the EV-DO standard. The company is lobbying for a licence to offer mobile services as well but is meeting resistance from the other operators.
Sudatel exited the mobile market when it sold its GSM network to Celtel (now Zain) at a record price in 2006, following the arrival of competition the year before from Bashair Telecom. Sudatel then re-entered the mobile market independently with its CDMA network under the brand name Sudani. At the end of 2009 the company launched a GSM-based network overlay, keeping up with Zain and MTN in offering third generation services including HSDPA mobile broadband. Broadband pricing is still high and varies widely between the different operators.
Higher telecom taxes in 2012;
Telecom networks to be separated between the two new states;
South Sudan to connect to international fibre bandwidth via Kenya;
Intensified mobile broadband competition;
Wide variation of broadband pricing and mobile ARPU.
Estimated market penetration rates in Sudan’s telecoms sector – end 2012
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 78%
Fixed | 1%
Internet | 24%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Companies covered in this report:
Canar Telecom (Canartel)
Network of the World (NOW, Vivacell)
Gemtel (G Telecom, LapGreen)