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Civil unrest in Yemen has created a challenging environment for telecoms operators
The short-term outlook remains difficult for the telecoms operators in Yemen. The challenging environment which currently exists is a result of the ongoing conflict between opposing parties which flared again in late 2014 and continues today. In 2017 international concern is mounting regarding the growing humanitarian issues in Yemen, with famine and food shortages rising, along with a severe cholera outbreak.
The unrelenting military activity has impacted heavily upon Yemen’s economy as well as reportedly causing severe destruction to the country’s infrastructure, including telecommunications equipment. Telecoms operators also face the challenge of a market which is inhibited by the lack of an independent regulator.
Yemen had done much to upgrade and expand its telecom sector prior to the civil unrest. However tele-density remains among the lowest in the Arab states, reflecting Yemen’s status as one of the poorest countries in the region.
Current mobile penetration levels indicate there is much room for growth, with prepaid services accounting for the majority of mobile subscriptions. Yemen’s mobile data market is in the nascent stages of development, with mobile messaging and mobile Internet access offered. Serious competition is unlikely until the GSM operators are permitted to launch 3G services however.
A further inhibitor to the uptake of both Internet and mobile broadband services has been the high costs. Fixed home Internet access is expensive with consumers required to purchase a router and pay for on-going monthly bundles, which can be cost prohibitive. For this reason, many citizens choose to utilize Internet cafes instead. Mobile broadband services, as well as smart phone devices, are also very expensive and beyond the reach of much of the population where many live below the poverty line.
Please note: Yemen can be a difficult market to research given the volatile civil unrest and rising concerns regarding famine. All recent statistics are estimated only as the current situation is largely unknown. There is reportedly significant destruction to telecoms infrastructure.
|Subscribers to telecoms services (million): (e)|
|Fixed Broadband users||0.25||0.48|
- Over 80% of the population is reportedly in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen.
- There have been reports that a significant amount of Yemen’s telecoms infrastructure services is no longer operational due to being destroyed or damaged as part of the civil fighting.
- MTN Yemen had its operating licence renewed until December 2017.
- In mid-2016, it was announced that TeleYemen had joined a consortium that would see the build-out of a new submarine cable, due for completion in 2018. Known as the Djibouti Africa Regional Express (DARE) initiative, the cable will link Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Somaliland, Yemen and Djibouti.
- Yemen citizens are faced with high telecom service costs along with heavy subsidies for items such as fuel.
- Prepaid services have been instrumental in encouraging mobile take up by the mass market.
Companies covered in this report include:
TeleYemen, Public Telecommunications Corporation (PTC), Yemen Mobile, SabaFon, MTN Yemen, Y Telecom, Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), DARE submarine cable consortium.