Is mobile phone penetration in Ghana 47% or 55%?

Mobile logosAn official of Millicom International Cellular, operators of Tigo, has put the current wireless penetration in Ghana at 47 per cent.

This is contrary to the 55 per cent wireless penetration the National Communication Authority, government officials and some telecom operators have been quoting. Based on the 55 per cent calculation, some 12.1 million people have mobile phones, and the NCA expects penetration level to reach 60 to 70 per cent by the close of 2010 and 85 per cent in 2013.

However, Ms. Lucy Quist, Tigo’s Head of Operations for Africa, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Cape Town, where she is attending the Telecom World Africa 2009 Conference, that “based on figures from interconnectivity activities between the operators, I can confirm the actual wireless penetration in Ghana is 47 per cent.”

The new figures provided by the Tigo official bring the current number of active mobile phone lines in the country to 10.34 million.

Ms. Quist said she had no idea how the NCA arrived at its figures, but she was confident that the figures from interconnectivity activities were authentic.

MTN Ghana CEO, Brett Goschen, recently echoed the NCA’s 55 per cent penetration figure.

The TIGO figures raise questions about the subscriber numbers by the operators in the country.

First quarter reports from the telecom operators indicated that market leader, MTN, had 6.8 million subscribers; Tigo had 2.9 million; Vodafone had 1.65 million; Zain had 889,000 subscribers and Kasapa had 400,000.

Going by the 10.34 million active subscriptions provided by the Tigo official, MTN’s 6.8 million subscribers, for instance, comes to 65 per cent market share; Tigo’s 2.9 million comes to 28 per cent and there would be only seven per cent market share for Vodafone, Zain and Kasapa.

Some operators had told the GNA that operators bloated subscriber numbers in their quarterly reports to the NCA, and the NCA had no means of auditing to verify their authenticity.

Operators pointed to parallel reporting resulting from two operators capturing subscribers who might have left one operator to join the other within the three-month reporting period.

Some operators allegedly also capture inactive simcards sold out as active subscriptions and all that tend to bloat subscribers without the NCA doing anything to ensure sanity.

Ms. Quist in her presentation at the ongoing Telecom World Africa 2009 Conference, said out of 106 million Tigo subscribers across all its operations in emerging markets, 34 per cent were in Africa. She added that Tigo had targeted a capital investment of $750 million across its operations by the close of this year.

Tigo has 16 operations in Africa. At the end of second quarter of this year, Tigo made $6.2 average revenue per user (ARPU) per month across Africa; but the ARPU figure for Ghana stood at $5.3 per month, aggregating some $15,370,000 for its assumed 2.9 million customers in Ghana.

Tigo’s ARPU in Africa for December 2008 was $9.3, meaning there is a fall of $3.1 between last year and this year.

Source: GNA

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