Mobile remains king in Côte d'Ivoire – R&M

Mobile remains king in Côte d'Ivoire – R&M

Strong economic growth is benefiting the telecoms sector in Côte d'Ivoire, reports Research & Markets.

The strongest sector in the overall market is the mobile sector, dominated by MTN and Orange and with Moov (a subsidiary of Maroc Telecom) having about a quarter of the market by subscribers. Several of the smaller operators – among them Globacom, Warid Telecom, and KoZ, which was operated by Lebanon’s Comium Group - have either folded or failed to launch services.

Green Network - previously backed by Libya's LAP Green - became part of the Libyan Post, Telecommunications and Information Technology Company (LPTIC) which subsequently lost its universal telecoms licence.

Although it has two competing fixed network operators, the fixed-line sector is dominated by CI-Telecom. This operator is majority-owned by Orange Group and was merged with the Group's local mobile network operator, Orange Côte d'Ivoire, in December 2016. This created a unified service operator able to provide converged fixed-line as well as mobile voice and data services. The merger was in line with the government's aim of developing a telecom sector with a stronger focus on convergence. To this end the mobile licences were renewed in early 2016 as universal services licences.

The value of mobile money transfers has grown to XOF17 billion per day; a government plan to introduce a 0.5% tax on transactions is expected to bring in XOF10 billion annually. Orange Group is preparing to launch Orange Bank based on its Orange Money platform.

The fixed internet and broadband sectors have remained underdeveloped. This is partly the legacy of high international bandwidth costs, which were caused by the incumbent having had monopoly access to the only international fibre optic submarine cable serving the country. This was addressed 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, with WiMAX operator YooMee deploying an LTE offering.

Further progress has been made in building out the national backbone network, which in 2019 will be connected to the MainOne submarine cable. Main One has secured a licence to provide connectivity services in Côte d'Ivoire, and plans to build a new Tier III data centre in 2020. These developments will place the country in a better position to develop its broadband market and so encourage a prosperous digital economy.

Though GDP has declined since 2014, the economy is still expected to have grown by about 7.4% in 2018. This is supported by strong export in cocoa and palm oil and with greater efforts to develop the manufacturing sector as well as mining for gold and developing oil exports.

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.

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