Namibia plans privatisation of Namibia Telecom and MTC

Namibia plans privatisation of Namibia Telecom and MTC

Namibia was slow to introduce competition in the mobile market, with a second operator not licensed until 2006.

However, since then the market has developed strongly, with effective competition between MTC Telecom Namibia and Paratus Telecom. Mobile penetration is well above the regional average, and recent investment in LTE has also pushed up mobile broadband penetration.

For its part the government has an ambitious Broadband Policy aiming to provide 95% population coverage by 2024. This will be supported by the telcos which continue to invest in their own extensive network objectives. 5G services have been delayed, partly due to unsubstantiated public concerns for the technology which caused the government to order an environmental assessment of 5G in mid-2020 while also requesting that the regulator speed up its 5G development strategy.

Fixed-line services remained a monopoly of Telecom Namibia until mid-2019 when fixed number portability was introduced. Economic pressure has encouraged the government to pursue its plans to sell its stakes in Telecom Namibia and MTC, as well as in a number of other enterprises.

Although Namibia’s internet and broadband sector is reasonably competitive, with a small number of active ISPs, its development was held back by high prices for international bandwidth caused by the lack of a direct connection to international submarine fibre optic cables. This improved after operators invested in diversifying terrestrial access routes to adjacent countries.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

  • Telecom Namibia upgrades its VSAT hub to provide more reliable connectivity for users in remote areas;
  • City of Windhoek’s 5G and fibre plans opposed as uncompetitive;
  • Advisory panel encourages privatisation of Telecom Namibia and MTC;
  • Namibia approves Alphabet’s Project Look trials;
  • Government calls for the regulator to speed up 5G development strategy;
  • Government launches the National Broadband Policy and Implementation Action Plan, aiming to provide a universal 2Mb/s services by 2024;
  • MTC embarks on phase 2 of its N$1 billion 081Every1 network expansion project;
  • Paratus Telecom launches N$150 million infrastructure investment through to 2021;
  • Report update includes the regulator’s market data to December 2018 and 2019 annual report, operator data for fiscal 2020, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

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Developing Telecoms market report summaries are produced in partnership with BuddeCom, the world’s largest continually updated online telecommunications research service.

The above article is a summary of the following BuddeCom report:

Report title: Namibia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Edition: 18th (August 2020)

Analyst: Henry Lancaster

Number of pages: 121

Companies mentioned in the report: Telecom Namibia; Mobile Telecommunications (MTC); Cell One (Leo, Orascom); Powercom; MTN Business Namibia; MWEB Namibia; Africa Online Namibia; Internet Technologies Namibia; iWay.

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