This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Ghana’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the fixed-line, mobile and broadband sectors. Subjects include:
Researcher: Henry Lancaster
Current publication date: March 2018 (17th Edition)
Ghana was one of the first countries in Africa to liberalise and deregulate its telecommunications sector. Following the privatisation of Ghana Telecom in 1996 there was very rapid growth in market competition across the mobile and internet sectors, with a number of new players being licensed to offer services. Ghana Telecom was acquired by the Vodafone Group in 2009 and rebranded as Vodafone Ghana. It is the principal fixed-line provider and also the third largest player in the mobile services sector, after MTN and AirtelTigo, formed from the merger of Airtel Ghana and Tigo Ghana. The second national operator, Westel, was also re-privatised, in 2007, ultimately becoming Airtel Ghana.
There are a number of submarine fibre cables landing in the country, which have significantly increased international bandwidth and led to a dramatic reduction in the cost of broadband access. These developments, combined with the roll out of national fibre backbone networks by a number of players, are continuing to revolutionise the country’s broadband market and pave the way for the convergence of technologies and services. This has been indicated by the regulator’s intention to replace 2G licences expiring in 2019 with universal access licences, enabling licensees to offer both fixed and mobile offers.
Ghana has one of the most vibrant mobile markets in Africa, with competing operators including the regional heavyweights MTN Ghana, Vodafone Ghana and AirtelTigo. Although subscriber growth has remained strong in recent years, with the exception of a dip in 2017 resulting from a redefinition of active subscribers from one of the operators, competition has resulted in lower Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) and pressure on revenue. Nevertheless, there is enormous potential in mobile broadband services, both in terms of subscriber additions and in mobile data ARPU. Mobile internet connections already account for the vast majority of all internet accesses in the country. The launch of LTE services by MTN Ghana in mid-2016 has added to the vibrancy of this sector, and although the other providers have held back from securing LTE licences, claiming that the cost is too high, the regulator has encouraged them to refarm 2G spectrum for 3G use in a bid to improve internet access in rural and remote areas.
The internet market is highly competitive, with a large number of ISPs, though most subscribers are customers of only a few operators. While subscriber growth in the sector was for many years held back by the poor condition of the national fixed-line network and by the high cost of connectivity, the situation improved following the introduction of fixed-wireless and mobile broadband technologies and the vastly increased international bandwidth available. The government has also invested in building extensive fibre infrastructure in the Eastern and Western Corridors.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Vodafone Ghana (Ghana Telecom, OneTouch), Airtel Ghana (Zain/Celtel, Westel), Capital Telecom, Main One, VoltaCom, Phase3 Telecom, Suburban Telecom, AirtelTigo (Tigo Ghana, Airtel Ghana), MTN Ghana, Expresso Telecom (Sudatel, Kasapa), Globacom (Glo Mobile), Thuraya, Network Computer Systems (NCS), InternetGhana, Africa Online, Busy Internet, Linkserve, IDN, Infinite Stream Ghana, Electricity Corporation of Ghana (ECG), Cactel Communications, O3b Networks, VoltaCom, Internet Solutions.