Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/02/2014 -- Our Q214 West and Central Africa report analyses latest industry, regulatory and macroeconomic developments in the telecoms markets of seven countries: Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal. These countries' telecoms markets are at varying levels of development, ranging from a nearly 200% mobile penetration rate in Gabon to less than 40% penetration in the DRC. However, they share many similar characteristics, including very low broadband and fixed-line penetration, owing to the high cost of services and chronic underinvestment in fixed-line networks. While BMI believes most markets still hold strong growth potential, primarily in the mobile and 3G segments, in many cases this is held back by poor regulatory and challenging business environments.
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- The average mobile market growth for the seven countries in our coverage in 2013 was 14.8%, driven by Mali and the DRC. Mauritania was the only country to record negative mobile growth in 2013.The average mobile penetration rate in the seven countries was 98.7% at the end of 2013. Gabon had the highest penetration rate at 192.6%, while DRC had the lowest at 38.1%.
- BMI estimates that all seven countries continued to report growth in the fixed-line sector, despite the strong uptake of mobile voice and data services.
- By the end of 2013, 3G had only been launched in four of the seven countries: the DRC, Cote d'Ivoire, Mauritania and Senegal. 3G as a percentage of the total mobile market reached an average of 4.5% in the four countries.
Key Trends & Developments
Cote d'Ivoire's government raised telecoms business tax from 25% of profits to 30% in February 2014. The head of the Directorate General for Taxes, Pascal Abinan, told a press conference that 'the information and communications technologies sector is in full expansion' and that he planned to make the sector contribute to national development. Further to the increased taxation, the government will require that companies transferring profits out of the country will be required to subscribe to treasury bills to an equivalent value of 20% of the funds leaving the country.
Also in February, MTN Cameroon announced plans to invest XAF600bn (US$1.25bn) in its mobile network over the next three years, on the condition that the government issues it a 3G licence. Despite several appeals from MTN and its rival Orange Cameroon, the government has thus far refused to issue them 3G licences, opting instead to give newcomer Viettel a monopoly over the 3G market until December 2014.
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