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Congo
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During the 1990s, the Republic of the Congo, like most countries, experienced significant growth in the telecommunications sector. However, the liberalization of the telecommunications market in 1997, when the monopoly held by the National Office of Posts and Telecommunications (ONPT) gave way to free competition among multiple operators, was not free of problems, and the country continues to suffer the effects today. Although these problems are reflected in infrastructure, an inadequate legislative framework is responsible for the repercussions that are most deeply felt by the population: 97% of Congolese do not have access to the internet, and the fixed and mobile telephony operators are largely inefficient. As is the case in numerous African countries, it has been difficult to implement a coherent ICT policy in the Congo.

Licenses & Regulations

The country's telcom regulator is "Direction Générale de l'Administration Centrale des Postes et Télécommunication" (DGACPT). Therefore, the "Autorité de régulation des postes et des communications électroniques" has been created in December 2009 to manage the country’s telecom market.

Fixed Lines

Fixed-line telephone services are generally of poor quality. The infrastructure is described as inadequate providing less than 1 connection per 100 persons. Although the number of main lines in use continued to increase modestly in the early 2000s, overall access remained low, particularly in comparison with cellular mobile telephones, the use of which was expanding rapidly.

Mobile

In the absence of an adequate fixed line infrastructure, mobile-cellular subscribership has surged and is approaching 50 per 100 persons. As of 2010, the country has 3,312,000 subscribers in total, or a 51.73% penetration rate.

The country has three running licensed mobile operators, Zain Congo with a market share of 53%, MTN Congo with 40% and Warid Congo with 7% (Q3 2009). In January 2010, a fourth mobile operator, ETC – a subsidiary company of Bahrain-based Bintel - was awarded an operating license. According to Thierry Lezin Moungalla, Congo’s minister for post and telecommunications, the new business will help develop Congo’s economy.

Mobile Operators

Average Revenue per User (ARPU)

In the third quarter of 2009, Zain Congo’s ARPU was calculated at US$12. MTN Congo witnessed a decrease in its ARPU from US$18 in 2008 to US$12 in 2009, which is a 6% change. ARPU rates for Warid telecom are not available.

Internet

Access to personal computers is generally modest, and the proportion of the Congolese population that makes use of Internet services is low.

Currently, the country still depends on costly satellite connections, which makes it difficult to promote the widespread use of the internet. Numerous cybercafés have been forced to shut down after only a few months in operation because there simply were not enough customers to keep them in business. This lack of clientele is the result of poor connectivity and staggering costs. The number of internet users was 155,000 in 2009, with a penetration rate of 3.9%.

Fortunately, the country will soon have fibre optic connectivity. The Republic of the Congo is scheduled to be connected to the SAT-3/WASC fibre optic cable during 2009 and operational in 2011. This submarine cable stretching along the west coast of Africa required an investment of USD15 million from each of the nations interconnected with it. The Republic has already invested US$10 million, and much of the infrastructure (communications highways) interconnecting the interior of the country and big cities has yet to be laid out.

Key Figures

  • Number of main lines in use: 22,200 (2008)
  • Number of mobile subscribers: 3,312,000 (2010)
  • Number of internet users: 155,000 (2009)
  • Number of Internet hosts: 18 (2009)
  • Internet penetration rate: 3.9% (2009)

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