Tuesday, May 31, 2011

RURA Rules Out Portability for Now

The telecommunication industry in Rwanda continues to strive to grow but has been lately faced by various setbacks.

Even with the thought that introducing the number portability system, a system that would see you own your number including the prefix and be able to move with it across networks, would increase competition among operators, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency-RURA, the body tasked with regulating public utilities still believes that it is too soon to bring it on board.

In an earlier interview Regis Gatarayiha, the acting Director General of RURA, he said that the system would only be introduced once Rwanda hits the 60% mobile telephony penetration level…

"…On the issue of Number portability, our position as the regulator is that we think due to the low levels of mobile telephony penetration levels in the country which is currently at 30%, we cannot be able to have it. There is nowhere in the world where it is done with 30% penetration levels. Everywhere else they do it when they have at least 60% penetration levels. This is to enable the available operator to continue to fight for more people to buy sim cards, phones etc so that they can reach a larger number of people who don’t have mobile telephone services. We have taken the position that we will look into it but until we get to the penetration level of 60%.  

But, MTN’s former Brand Marketing Manager Albert Rudantsimburwa feels otherwise. He believes that taking this stand would put less pressure on the existing operators to compete for new customers. In February this year, Rwanda shelved its plans for a fourth mobile license after the mobile market stuck at 3.6 million.

The reason given by the regulator was based on the fact that there was slow subscriber growth saying that with no growth for the past few months, it was important that the market shares at least 6 million subscribers by 2012.
According to Rura statistics, MTN had 2.59 million customers in January 2011, Tigo had 692,000 and Rwantatel had 345,000.

But with the removal of Rwandatel mobile telephony from the equation, Albert believes that there is need for the introduction of another operator to shake up the completion element in the market…

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