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Congo DRC
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As a result of the political instability since the mid-1990s, the national telecom system is one of the least developed in the region. Rural areas, where almost 70% of the population resides, are virtually devoid of telephone or Internet service. Up until now, ICTs have not been considered an inherent part of reconstruction and are not included in development schemes for the country. The national operator, OCPT theoretically has a monopoly on the sector under 1970 legislation, but it has been unable to provide a modern telecom network and unsuccessful in finding major investors for privatization. Recognizing the need for telecommunications infrastructure, the government is only loosely regulating the sector.

With support from China, OCPT is now finally rolling out a fibre optic national backbone that will ultimately also provide access to fibre optic submarine cables for low-cost, high-quality international bandwidth.

The estimated penetration rate in DRC for end of 2010 is 16% for the mobile market, 0.1% for the fixed lines market and 0.6% for the internet market.

Licenses & Regulations

The Telecommunications law no. 013/2002 of 16 October 2002 is the only legislation that governs the ICT sector. The country's telecommunications regulator is Agence de Régulation de la Poste et des Télécommunications du Congo (ARPTC), was established in June 2003.

Fixed Lines

DRC suffers from inadequate fixed line infrastructure with the state-owned operator providing less than one fixed-line connection per 1000 persons. The use of mobile-cellular services has surged and subscribership in 2008 approached 9.3 million - roughly 15 per 100 persons.

Mobile

The telecommunications market in the DRC is characterized by the almost total lack of fixed-line infrastructure, providing a significant opportunity for MNOs. These mobile networks have taken over as the providers of basic telecom services. By 2001, some 16 private operators had been granted mobile telephony licenses and the subscriber base was growing at triple digit rates per year. However, the proliferation of networks has also caused interference and compatibility problems, and there is limited available spectrum due to poor spectrum management. As a result, the mobile sector has consolidated and now has four major players: Vodacom Congo, Zain DRC, Millicom (Tigo) and Congo Chine Telecom (CCT) in which OCPT holds 49%. The vast majority of subscribers are on prepaid plans.

The mobile penetration rate in the DRC has increased significantly in recent years but remains one of the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa at approximately 16% as at 31 December 2008.

Mobile Operators

Average Revenue per User (ARPU)

Zain witnessed an ARPU of US$8 first quarter of 2009. Whereas Tigo’s ARPU for the first quarter of 2010 were very high, attributing to US$ 18.125. No ARPU info is available for the remaining mobile operators in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Internet

Development of the Internet market has been held back by the poorly developed national and international infrastructure and low PC penetration rate. Many connections are achieved through wireless access to ISPs or using cellular lines. The mobile operators are beginning to play a significant role in this sector as well, following the launch of mobile data services. However, no 3G mobile systems have yet been launched apart from a CDMA-EV-DO system in Kinshasa, which means that services offering true broadband speed are currently only available through relatively small wireless networks using other technologies, mainly WiMAX.

Key Figures

  • Number of main lines in use: 37,300 (2008)
  • Number of mobile subscribers: 10,600,000 (2010)
  • Number of internet users: 290,000 (2009)
  • Number of ISPs: 1 licensed providers (2006)
  • Number of broadband internet subscribers: 1,500 (2008)
  • Number of Internet hosts: 3,015 (2009)
  • Mobile penetration rate: 16% (2008)
  • Internet penetration rate: 0.4% (2009)

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