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Orange Group expands in Burkina Faso with acquisition of Airtel business
Burkina Faso's telecom sector has been held back by the slow pace of regulatory procedures. This has contributed to delays in operators being able to launch 3G and LTE services despite mobile networks being fundamental to internet access. The poor state of fixed-line networks has meant that in recent years the number of fixed-line subscribers has fallen steadily as customers migrate to the limited services available from the three mobile network operators. The fixed-line incumbent Onatel, majority-owned by Maroc Telecom, operates the country's fixed-line network, a CDMA2000 wireless network, a fibre optic backbone and one of three GSM mobile networks, Telmob.
Mobile telephony has experienced strong growth since competition was introduced in 2000 by Celtel/Zain and Telecel International. Both operators have seen a change of ownership, with Zain having been acquired by Bharti Airtel before being sold on to Orange Group in 2016, and with Telecel becoming part of Marco
Telecom and being rebranded as Moov. Although market penetration remains below the African average, is continues to grow steadily.
Onatel's FasoNet is the country's leading internet service provider, dominating the broadband market with its DSL and EV-DO offerings. Penetration rates in this sector are still extremely low and services remain expensive despite some price cuts introduced since 2011 in the wake of improved international bandwidth capacity. Being landlocked, Burkina Faso for long depended on expensive satellite links for its international bandwidth, though in recent years connectivity has been facilitated by transit fibre links through adjacent countries which have direct access to the region's international fibre optic submarine cables. Although about 50 ISPs have been licensed, only three compete with FasoNet, and collectively these have fewer than 1,000 subscribers.
The mobile operators have entered the underdeveloped internet sector by offering mobile data services using GPRS and EDGE technology, but 3G services have not yet been introduced except for Onatel's EV-DO fixed-wireless service.
Market penetration rates in Burkina Faso's telecoms sector 2016 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services: | Penetration
Fixed-line telephony | 0.4%
Internet users | 11.6%
Mobile SIM (population) | 85.3%
Vodafone Wholesale and Huawei complete cable to Ghanaian border; Bharti Airtel completes the sale of its local unit to Orange Group; Onatel reports 11% increase in revenue for H1 2016; G-Cloud project aiming to connect more than 400 institutions in all 13 regions; government contracts Alcatel-Lucent to provide cloud networking technology facilitating digital public services; Airtel and MTN launch money transfer service between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast; regulator imposes fines on MNOs for breaches of network coverage and QoS conditions; Finance Act 2014 mandates a 5% tax on telcos; international internet bandwidth increases to 5.38Gb/s; Maroc Telecom deploys new cable linking Burkina Faso to Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and Niger; report includes the regulator's annual reports and market statistical updates to December 2014, telcos' financial and operating data to Q2 2016, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Onatel, Telmob, Bharti Airtel (Zain, Celtel), Moov (Telecel, Etisalat), FasoNet, ZCP, Delgi, Cenatrin, CFAO Technologies, River Telecom, Net Access, Maroc Telecom, Vivendi.
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