DRC is the second largest country in Africa and covers an area the size of Western Europe. Logistics are therefore a challenge, but also an opportunity.
Its population exceeded 84 million in 2018 and is forecasted to reach over 100 million in the next five years. By 2035, the UN predicts that the population will nearly double in Kinshasa, DRC’s capital city, making it the seventh largest city in the world at c.27 million inhabitants. With over 70% of the population under the age of 30, the demographics all point to continued growth in mobile.
Mobile penetration is currently low, at 41%, and only around 50% of the country has mobile coverage.
In 2017, the telecommunications minister announced plans to establish a universal service fund designed to extend network coverage to rural and underserved regions.
In 2018, Helios Towers rolled out a new 1,800km microwave backbone tower network to bring mobile network coverage to a further six million people in new territories.
The scope for growth remains vast. Between 2013 and 2020, DRC saw mobile subscription growth of 5% annually, which also accounts for government-imposed disconnections of unregistered SIM cards in 2015, an encouraging step forward in further professionalising the market. Independent forecasts project a further 6% CAGR to 2026(1). This is expected to necessitate the addition of new Points of Service at an 11% CAGR from 2020-2026E.
There are four mobile operators in a balanced competitive market structure, with Vodacom, Orange (which acquired Tigo in 2016) and Airtel being increasingly challenged by the slightly later entrant Africell, who launched in 2012.
MNOs continue to invest in expanding their infrastructure. All were awarded 4G licences in 2018 to add to their existing 3G expansion plans, driving expectations of continued strong PoS growth.
Helios Towers is the sole independent towerco in DRC. We entered the market in 2011 and have completed two acquisitions as well as adding considerable build-to-suit sites and the new backbone network. Our sites are well positioned with 81% in urban areas and 71% in unique locations.
(1) GSMA Database, accessed February 2021
HT Q3 2020 KPIs
1,871 sites 3,987 Tenants 2.13x Tenancy Ratio
|Marlene Kiniffo-Zounon||CEO Central Africa|
|Matu Ilunga Kalala||Legal Manager|
|Simon-Pierre Butsana||Sales & Marketing Director|
|Aurelie Memeliwando||Human Resources Manager|
|Alain Renaud Etsonn||Head of Performance Engineering|
|Aime Buanga||Head of Supply Chain|
|Thierry Akpenan||Head of Operations & Maintenance|
|Jean-Patrick Intiomale||Head of Projects|