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History of Telecom Companies in Rwanda

9 February, at 08 : 09 AM Print

History of Telecom Companies

Commonly known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is the country situated at the heart of Africa inhabited by over 10 million citizens. Rwanda’s history of mobile telecommunication companies was pioneered by MTN Rwandacell which received a licence in 1998 to provide GSM services for both post and prepaid subscribers.

At the time, Prices and tariffs of both cellphones and calling respectively were high and thus MTN had less number of subscribers. With Rwandans’ increased GPD per capita at $540 as of 2010 according to www.stastics.gov.rw and increased mobile services like GPRS, EDGE, 3G and zero facebook, the South African based company, MTN now boasts with 2,900,264 subscribers (www.rura.gov.rw statistics).

MTN’s monopoly in Rwanda lasted for 10 years after which Rwandatel (80% owned by LAP Green networks of Libya) joined the mobile market. Rwandatel’s introduction of 3G networks before MTN did, quickly attracted subscribers reaching over 100,000 in less than 2 months of operation. At this time, Revolution into Rwanda’s mobile communication had just begun, with faster data communications and internet through handheld PCs and mobile phones.

3rd to enter the mobile communications market was Millicom named Tigo (owned by Luxembourg) which was licensed to carry operations late 2009. With intensive marketing (public transport buses were painted Tigo colours with overwhelmingly cheap call costs of 300Rfr per 24 hours) and rapid coverage of networks countrywide, Tigo has secured 1,523,825 as of November 2011.

In April 2011, Rwandatel had its license revoked by Rwanda’s telecom regulator RURA due to a failure to meet licencee obligations such as coverage, planned investment targets and quality of service.

Not long ago, Late 2011 Bharti Airtel (Indian owned) secured a license to provide 2G and 3G cellular services. The company plans to invest over USD100 million over the next three years, including USD30 million for the purchase of the operating licence.

 

However with the entrance of a bigger fish in the market, (5th world’s Telcom company), a lot is expected since Airtel has had a long history of making wonders including buying other Telecom companies like the USD 10.7 Billion dealthat saw Zain’s 15 countries’ coverage become Airtel not to mention a previous wish to merge with MTN Group.

 

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