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Telecommunications infrastructure in Eritrea is poorly developed and controlled by the government. The system is inadequate; and the government is seeking international tenders to improve the system. The country has only one telecommunications operator, EriTel. The combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership is only about 3 per 100 persons (2008). On 13 April 2006, Eritrea received a soft loan of US$23 from the Government of China to upgrade their communication infrastructure. This loan helped connect the remaining major cities in Eritrea to the mobile telephone system.

Licenses & Regulations

Eritrea’s telecommunications sector is managed and controlled by the government and has the Postal and Telecommunications Authority acting as the industry regulator. The latter is the entity entitled to grant operating licenses to telco companies in the country.

Fixed Lines

The Eritrean Telecommunications Corporation, more commonly known as EriTel, is the sole operator of land line telephone communication infrastructure in Eritrea.

EriTel assumed this infrastructure from the Postal and Telecommunications Authority once they were split into separate entities. The infrastructure that is used was laid during the Italian colonial period. It consists primarily of aging copper wire, though in the major urban centers, including Asmara, Massawa, and Keren, upgrades have been made to the switching systems.

The number of main lines in use reached 40,400 in 2008.


Eritel is the sole operator of the mobile telephone service connecting major internal cities; however, it does not provide its customers with SMS services to foreign locations.

The number of mobile subscribers was estimated at 143,000 in 2010, which is about 2.36% of the population.

Mobile Operators

Average Revenue per User (ARPU)

No information regarding EriTel’s ARPU rates has been publically disclosed.


In March 2000, Eritrea became the last country in Africa to establish local access to the Internet when the Eritrean PTO built an international gateway in coordination with USAID’s Leland Project. Prior, email access to the Internet was provided by “store-and-forward” email systems connecting to the United States.

As of 2005, the country had 4 Internet Service Providers (ISPs): EriTel, CTS, TFanus, Ewan. In 2009, the number of internet hosts was 1,307, while the number of internet users reached 200,000 which is a penetration rate of 3.5%.

Key Figures

  • Number of main lines in use: 40,400 (2008)
  • Number of mobile subscribers: 143,000 (2010)
  • Number of internet users: 200,000 (2009)
  • Number of internet hosts: 1,307 (2009)
  • Number of ISPS: 4 licensed providers (2005)
  • Internet penetration rate: 3.5% (2009)
  • Mobile penetration rate: 2.36% (2009)

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