Thursday 29 July 2021

Huawei helps Côte d'Ivoire to become Digital Economy Leader by 2030

Côte d'Ivoire, also often known by its English translation Ivory Coast, is a West-African country of 37 million mobile connections in 2021.

The telecoms market in Côte d'Ivoire is highly skewed towards the mobile segment, which is relatively mature in contrast with the nascent fixed line market. Despite the mobile penetration rate surpassing 130% and 4G services having been launched in 2016, rural areas of the country are not well connected. The demand for data is rising and operators try to monetise their investments in the further expansion of their networks through advanced data services. As the country is underserved in terms of financial institutions, mobile operators witness a high take-up of their mobile money services and venture into insurance services.

There are 4 providers in Côte d'Ivoire ranked according to their subscriber numbers: Orange, MTN, Moov (by Maroc Telecom) and YooMee (LTE data-only).

ARTCI is the national telecom regulator and provides a list of towns that are covered with 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE signals. 

2G/GSM is on 900 MHz and 3G on 2100 MHz with the 3 major providers. For 4G/LTE frequences in 800 Mhz (band 20), 1800 MHz (band 3) and 2600 MHz (band 7) were given out and all three majors have started in the capital and other towns. YooMee runs a LTE-only network for data in the capital of Abidjan on 2300 MHz (TD-LTE band 40).

Quality of service remains an issue. In September 2017 the three operators Orange, MTN and Moov have been fined a total of around 5 billion CFA (US$ 9 million) for providing poor quality of service. The Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications completed its audit for 2016 and found a number of infringements when measuring voice quality, call set-up times, failed calls and other criteria.

Orange, affiliated to France Télécom, has +15 million customers in Côte d'Ivoire, with +15 million customers, they are the market leader not only in mobile but also landline, Internet and Mobile Money, 

They broadcast on 900 MHz for 2G and 2100 MHz for 3G with 4G/LTE coverage around Abidjan (coverage list 4G) on 1800 MHz (band 3). Orange has the best coverage in the country that is mostly on par with MTN. In a speed test in 2018 it was the fastest network in the country.

South African based MTN is the 2nd largest operator in Côte d'Ivoire with 12 million users in 2020.

In 2017 it claimed to cover 95% / 83% / 29% of the population by 2G/3G/4G already. It has coverage on 4G in Abidjan, Assiny and in Bassam. 3G on 2100 MHz is available in about 150 towns in Côte d'Ivoire so far.

MTN Cote d’Ivoire has announced that it has switched on a new ‘4.5G’ network in Abidjan, the country’s economic capital. The network supports download speeds of up to 200Mbps and will be extended to the country’s interior in 2021.

Moov has been active in Côte d'Ivoire since 2006 and is the brand of Groupe Atlantique Télécom, that changed ownership in 2017 from the Emirati group Etisalat to Maroc Telecom. It's the smallest national operator with 7 million users and 23% market share in 2017.

It's broadcasting on 900 MHz for 2G, 3G with UMTS and HSPA+ on 2100 MHz and since 2016 on 4G/LTE in Abidjan, San Pédro Bouaflé, Bouaké, Daloa, Dimbokro, Gagnoa, Toumodi and in Yamoussoukro. Their coverage in 3G and 4G/LTE is lower than the other two national providers while its 2G is on par. That's why Moov may not be so convenient for data users.

YooMee was the first to roll-out 4G in the country on the rare 2300 MHz (band 40, in TD-LTE) in 2014. They are aiming at data-only users in Abdidjan and near surroundings. There is neither a fall-back to 2G or 3G nor is there any roaming available on the other networks. We are unable to find any recent information about this operator. It seems to have ceased operations. 

The government of Cote d’Ivoire has enlisted Chinese vendor Huawei to help develop its ICT industry over the next ten years. A report from Agence Ecofin says Huawei will provide technological expertise in various fields, in particular the introduction of a national strategy for the development of the digital economy which has been dubbed ‘Cote d’Ivoire Numerique 2030’. The Chinese firm will also assist in setting up a broadband development strategy, while also carrying out a study for the establishment of a framework for access to high speed broadband in the information society and assistance in promoting accessibility for people with disabilities. 

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