Ghana sees growth in telecom sector

According to BMI’s latest report, Ghana’s telecoms market grew over 15% is the year 2010 and is continue to march forward in this year too. The report mobile forecast includes December 2010 data as published by Ghana’s telecoms regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA), for YE10 and Q310 market data published by leading mobile network operators, including MTN Ghana, part of South Africa’s MTN Group, and Tigo Ghana, owned by Luxembourg’s Millicom International Cellular.

There were 17.437mn mobile subscribers in Ghana at the end of December 2010, according to figures from the NCA. This represented overall growth of 15.4% in 2010, considerably higher than earlier envisaged. BMI notes that Q410 had the highest growth following increased subscriber uptake from lower call tariffs introduced by operators in mid-2010. Ghana’s mobile operators introduced promotional offers and cut mobile tariffs to attract new customers following the introduction of mandatory SIM registration in June 2010 and disconnection of some inactive lines. Meanwhile, Airtel Ghana, now owned by India’s Bharti Airtel, stoked price competition in the market by slashing tariffs in line with Bharti Airtel’s low margin, high volume strategy for most of its African operations. Other operators joined in the price competition and we believe this is largely responsible for the strong subscriber uptake recorded in Q410.

We expect the price competition to continue in 2011. This will possibly become more intense after the likely arrival of sixth operator Glo Mobile Ghana, resulting in increased mobile penetration in the country. However, we caution growth may be tempered by strict implementation of SIM registration and disconnection of unregistered SIMs as well as the introduction of MNP which may reduce the incidence of multiple SIM ownership. We expect the market to grow by 11.2% in 2011 to reach almost 19.4mn or a penetration rate of 78.2%. By the end of our current forecast period in 2015, we expect Ghana’s mobile market to have about 25.2mn subscribers, representing a penetration rate of 94.6%.

Fixed-line figures for December 2010 published by the regulator shows there were 277,897 lines, revealing net additions of just 10.508 lines since YE09. Ghana’s fixed-line segment experienced mixed fortunes in 2010, first with strong subscriber growth in the first half of 2010, followed by significant losses in the second half. We believe the introduction of price competition in the mobile segment played a key role in subscriber losses during H210 as phone users dumped their fixed lines for cheaper mobile tariffs. The bulk of this growth in H110 was driven by the market leader Ghana Telecom (Vodafone). The operator was also responsible for virtually all the lines lost in H210 as alternative operator Airtel maintained positive growth in 2010. We expect the operators to focus on business customers as we are doubtful fixed tariffs can compete with mobile tariffs in the consumer segment. By 2015 we expect the number of fixed lines to be 310,000, representing a 1.2% penetration rate.