Since 2020, demand for telecom services has continued to grow in the DRC, driven in particular by Covid-19. Telecommunications operators are multiplying investments in their networks to meet demand and better face up to competition.
The telecommunications group Africell SA is requesting more frequency spectrum to improve the coverage of its telecom network in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Peter Pham, a member of the group’s Board of Directors, raised the issue with Augustin Kibassa Maliba, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, on Monday 27 June. This was during an exchange on the sidelines of the 40th session of the Assembly of Parties of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) which took place from June 28 to 30.
This initiative by Africell comes just over eight months after the company presented its investment plans in the country to Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge. The group planned to double the size of its network in the DRC with in particular “ a huge extension ” of the said network “ especially in the east of the country ”. In June 2021, the group obtained a syndicated loan of USD 105 million to finance its African strategy. Meanwhile, the group has launched its commercial activities in Angola.
The telecom network extension project in the hinterland of the DRC is necessary in view of the competition which has strengthened in the Congolese telecom market, driven by the growing demand for telecom services caused by Covid-19 . Since 2021, competitors Orange and Vodacom have invested in their network, in particular through the commissioning of a fiber optic network, the extension of service in rural areas, the modernization of the network from 2G to 3G. Earlier this month, Airtel Africa acquired additional frequencies for USD 42 million.
Africell’s network expansion should enable the company to reach thousands more people. This will enable the company to strengthen its position in the telecom market and improve its returns. In the fourth quarter of 2021 , Africell was in fourth place in the Congolese telecom market in terms of share with 9.73%, behind Orange, Airtel and Vodacom, which respectively controlled 27.86%, 28.55% and 33.86% of market shares.