The global economic crisis led to a downturn in Benin’s economy, but GDP growth has recovered and is expected to return to levels between 4 and 5% from 2013 onwards. Telecom service providers in the country have reacted to the downturn with price cuts and the introduction of innovative new services.
Fixed-line monopolist Benin Telecoms has expanded its CDMA2000 EV-DO fixed-wireless and ADSL broadband services and has launched the country’s first WiMAX network. In parallel it has been extending its national fibre backbone and international fibre connections, enabling it to act as a national and regional bandwidth hub. However, to fully exploit these assets, the company will depend on capital and management from a strategic international investor. Its privatisation has been planned since 2006 but has so far not come to fruition. The government is now considering to sell the company’s assets separately, including its mobile unit Libercom.
Libercom is competing with South Africa’s MTN, Etisalat’s Moov, Globacom’s Glo Mobile, and Bell Benin which is operating under the name BBCom. The high level of competition has taken market penetration to around 80% in early 2012.
Although the Internet has been available in Benin since 1995, it is used by only a small percentage of the population. Development of the sector has been hampered by the poor fixed-line network and the high cost of international connectivity. The arrival of a second international submarine fibre optic cable to compete with the SAT-3/WASC cable in the second half of 2012 is expected to lead to drastic reductions in the cost of international bandwidth.
The country’s first licence for 3G and 4G mobile broadband services was awarded in March 2012. More licensing announcements are expected in the near future. Being technology neutral, the licences will allow for a variety of solutions such as UMTS, LTE and mobile WiMAX.
- First licence for 3G and 4G mobile broadband services awarded;
- More licensing announcements expected;
- Second international submarine fibre optic cable to land in 2012;
- Benin Telecoms and mobile unit Libercom to be sold.
Estimated market penetration rates in Benin’s telecoms sector – end-2012
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Benin – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband
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