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Côte d Ivoire (Ivory Coast) - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
Ivory Coast’s regulator reconfigures mobile market with four operators
During the last few years Côte d’Ivoire has benefited from strong economic growth, with GDP having remained steady at above 8%, supported by strong export in cocoa and palm oil. Since the discovery of oil reserves in 2012 the export of oil and gas has largely supported economic growth. The relatively peaceful elections held in October 2015 secured a second term for President Ouattara, who has focused on rebuilding the country’s infrastructure and establishing economic and political stability.
Although it has two competing fixed network operators, the fixed-line sector is dominated by CI-Telecom. This operator was 51% owned by Orange Group, with the government owning 48.5% – the company is in the process of being merged with the mobile operator Orange Côte d’Ivoire (Orange CI), thereby creating an operator able to provide converged fixed-line and mobile voice and data services. This is sympathetic to the government’s plan to develop a telecom sector with a stronger focus on convergence. To this end the mobile licences were renewed in early 2016 as universal services licenses. The strongest sector in the overall market is the mobile sector, with South Africa’s MTN and France’s Orange Group leading the market. The launch of three additional GSM networks between 2006 and 2008 – Moov (owned by Etisalat of the UAE until it became a subsidiary of Maroc Telecom in May 2014), KoZ (operated by the Lebanese Comium Group) and Oricel Green Network (backed by Libya’s LAP Green before becoming part of the Libyan Post, Telecommunications and Information Technology Company (LPTIC) – briefly accelerated market growth and pushed mobile penetration well above the African average. However, these smaller players failed to make a long-term impression and their licences were revoked in April 2016. One licensee, Green Network, was resuscitated when LPTIC was awarded the fourth mobile licence in September 2016.
The internet and broadband sectors have remained underdeveloped. This is partly the legacy result of high international bandwidth costs caused by the incumbent having had monopoly access to the only international fibre optic submarine cable serving the country. This was addressed in recent years, with the landing of a second cable in November 2011. Access to additional cables are providing significant reductions in retail pricing for DSL, WiMAX and EV-DO wireless broadband services.
The biggest game changer has derived from the introduction of 3G mobile services. Following years of delays, the first 3G licence was finally awarded in March 2012. Services based on HSPA+ technology soon followed, providing effective mobile internet services to a wide section of the population. Further changes are expected into 2017 following the award of universal licences in early 2016 which enable operators, which have trialled LTE, to offer commercial services. Indeed the award of the fourth licence to LPTIC in September 2016 was partly guided by the company’s commitment to invest $154 million to upgrade its network infrastructure to provide LTE. The company (along with Comium, Café Mobile Telecom and Warid Telecom) had only months before seen its local unit GreenN lose its licence for having poor network coverage and quality of services, and for having failed to pay fees. The four mobile licences have been reconfigured as universal licences, thus enabling and encouraging operators to offer fixed and mobile voice and internet services.
Further progress has been made in building out the national backbone network, with an additional 7,000km expected to have been laid by early 2017. These developments will place the country in a better position to develop its broadband market and so encourage a prosperous digital economy.
Regulator offers universal licences; LPTIC is awarded the fourth universal telecoms licence, pledges to launch LTE services; government introduces a new legal framework for the transition to digital broadcasts; Orange CI and CI-Telecom merge, creating converged fixed-line and mobile operator; National Broadband Network to be completed by 2017; Orange Côte d’Ivoire and Airtel Burkina Faso open up mobile money transfer service; MTN Ivory Coast to invest CFA120 billion to upgrade its network through to 2017; WiMAX operator YooMee deploys LTE; report update includes regulator’s market data to June 2016, telcos’ operating data to Q2 2016, recent market developments.
Market penetration rates in Côte d’Ivoire’s telecoms sector – 2016 (e)
Companies mentioned in this report:
Côte d’Ivoire Telecom (CI-Telecom), MTN CI, Arobase Telecom, Orange CI (France Telecom), Comium CI (KoZ), Etisalat (Moov), LapGreen (Green Network, GreenN, Oricel), Warid Telecom, Globacom, CORA de Comstar, Aircomm CI, Mainstreet Technologies, Africa Online, AfNet, Aviso, Globe Access Internet (Omnes), Intel Afrique, Solaris Telecom, Africom, Afripa Telecom (Atlantique Telecom), Comete, Globe Access, Monicash.