MTN Rwanda slashes BlackBerry fees 40 percent as competition intensifies

Rwanda’s largest telecom operator MTN Rwanda has announced that it has reduced all BlackBerry fees by 40 percent, signaling the latest intensification of the country’s price war as the telecom seeks to combat falling profits.

The monthly subscription fee of BlackBerry Internet services was to reduced Rwf12,000 (US$19) from Rwf20,000 (US$32), with weekly fees cut from Rwf6,000 (US$9.50) to Rwf4,000 (US$6).

The company, which has 3.2 million subscribers in Rwanda and over 6,000 subscribers on BlackBerry services, attributed the reduction to its vision of promoting technology use within the country.

“We attributed this reduction to our continued support of Rwanda Government’s policies to create and promote mainstream technology in Vision 2020, which policies by purpose, rank among the most ambitious in Africa,” MTN said in a statement. “We also attribute this to our support of government’s ambitious plan to create Rwanda as a major regional ICT hub.”

 “We believe that the smartphone has today proved to be a tremendous technological advancement and we believe their services should be more affordable to all Rwandans.”

But MTN has been facing increasing competition for its 62 percent share of the market, and was recently fined by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) for poor service. It also saw its revenues fall last year on account of increased competition.

“Our revenues suffered because of the way the market was behaving… with the advent of competition and the  tariffs, promotions they brought on board; it was difficult to realize the revenues,” Andrew Rugege, MTN’s Chief Operations Officer (COO), said at the time. The entry of Airtel into the market has further spurred competition, and started a price war. Tigo is the company’s other major competitor.

In April, the company halved the price of some of its mobile data bundles in response to the challenge from Airtel.

Posted in: Telecoms

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