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Namibia
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Namibia benefits from both a continuous positive GDP growth and a good-quality telecoms system that green-lights recurring investments in the sector. Namibia does have one of the most modern and sophisticated backbone infrastructures in Africa, with fibre-optic links connecting the length of the country on the north-south and east-west axes. It has achieved 100% digitalization of switching.

With a mobile market penetration of approximately 60% by the end of 2008, Namibia has seen a significant intensification of competition. Namibia was one of the last countries in Africa to introduce competition in the mobile communications sector when a second network finally launched in 2007.

Namibia is a member of WTO and has not made commitments on Basic Telecommunications.

Licenses & Regulations

The country's telecommunications regulator is the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC) working under the Namibia Communications Commission Act of 1992. Control over the market is to be maintained through licensing and regulations.

Telecom Namibia Limited is the national telecommunications operator, established in August 1992 and wholly owned by the Government of the Republic of Namibia. Telecom Namibia is functioning as a commercialized company and as a subsidiary of its parent company, Namibia Post and Telecom Holdings Limited. Telecom Namibia runs the largest Digital Telecommunication Network in Namibia. The company is a leading supplier of voice, text, data and video solutions.

Fixed Lines

Fixed-line services are still a monopoly of Telecom Namibia (TN), but as a member of the WTO the government plans to open the telecom sector to full competition. TN has quietly entered the lucrative mobile market as the third player with a CDMA network but was put on hold by the industry regulator until the new ICT Bill, tabled in Parliament in June 2009, brings clarity about fixed-mobile convergence, among other issues.

Mobile

Both operators - MTC (managed by Portugal Telecom) and Leo, formerly known as CellOne (managed by Orascom) - have entered the Internet and broadband market with mobile data services in a bid to create new revenue streams.

The entry time of Cell One in the market enabled the company to grow rapidly and capture the existing organic growth. It rapidly reached 150-200 thousand customers. However, the company has been struggling to keep up a similar growth pace after launch, remaining at a 20% market-share of active customers.

Mobile Operators

Average Revenue per User (ARPU)

In 2007, Namibia introduced competition in the mobile communications sector when the government gave a license to a second network operator. Despite this, the country has achieved a market penetration rate well above the regional average. However, the average revenue per user has more than halved since then. The ARPU estimates for 2008 where N$1.27 for MTC and N$0.68 for Leo.

Internet

Despite being reasonably competitive with seven ISPs, development of Namibia's Internet and broadband sector has been held back by high prices for international bandwidth, caused by the lack of a direct connection to international submarine fibre optic cables. This will change in 2011 when the first cable is scheduled to reach the country's shores. In the meantime, Namibia is working to diversify its transit access routes via neighboring countries, but broadband prices on the retail level have gone up recently rather than down.

The country is well prepared for a broadband boom, with national fibre backbone infrastructure being rolled out by at least two companies and the mobile operators upgrading their networks to 3G technology.

Several WiMAX and other wireless broadband services offer additional access options to and are standing by to bring additional competition to the voice market as well once Internet telephony (VoIP) is deregulated. Telecom Namibia, which has offered ADSL access since late 2006, had a de facto monopoly on ADSL access. Their monopoly was unsuccessfully challenged in the courts by MWeb Namibia in May 2007, making Namibia the second African country (after Mozambique) to do so.

Key Figures

  • Number of main lines in use: 140,000 (2008)
  • Number of mobile subscribers: 1,748,000 (2010)
  • Number of internet users: 113,500 (2008)
  • Number of ISPs: 7 licensed providers
  • Number of Internet hosts: 17,840 (2009)
  • Mobile penetration rate: 60% (2008)
  • Internet penetration rate: 5.4% (2009)

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