Tigo Rwanda has started the year off as the only one of Rwanda's three telcos to record a drop in active subscriber numbers according to the latest report issued from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA).
RURA found that Tigo lost 13 269 (-0.38%) active subscribers in the ninety days leading up to 31 January 2018, while its rival MTN Rwanda and its recent acquirer Airtel Rwanda managed to increase their number of active subscribers by 83 931 (+2.25%) and 41 118 (+2.52%) respectively.
Tigo remains the second largest telco in the country with an active subscriber base of just under 3.5 million, ahead of Airtel which has around 1.6 million subscribers. MTN Rwanda leads that count with a total of 3.8 million active subscribers at the start of 2018. \
RURA's report shows that the total number of active mobile telephone subscriptions in Rwanda as a whole has increased in the period under consideration.
"The total number of active mobile telephone subscriptions (90-days revenue generating subscribers) in Rwanda increased from 8,819,217 at the end of December 2017 to 8,930,997 at the end of January 2018, thereby showing an increase of 1.27 %. The mobile-cellular telephone penetration rate decreased by 0.84%, from 76.5% to 75.6%. This decrease is attributed to the new projected population of 11,809,295 of 2017 that was used compared to 11,533,445 which is the projected population of 2016. Postpaid subscription increased from 127,727 at the end of December 2017 to 128,251 at the end of January 2018, and the prepaid subscriptions increased from 8,691,490 at the end of December 2017 to 8,802,746 as of January 2018," reads the RURA report.
The statistics showing Tigo's decrease in subscriber numbers come days after Mauricio Ramos, CEO of Millicom, which owned the mobile operator before selling it to Airtel Rwanda in January, described Africa as 'challenging' in the company's results for FY2017.
Millicom runs its business in Tanzania and Chad on the African continent after selling operations in Ghana, Senegal and most recently, Rwanda.
"In Africa, we delivered on our commitment to generate positive free cash flow from the region in 2017. We also disposed of our operation in Rwanda, and we completed a merger in Ghana, consistent with our strategy to focus on the Latam region,"said Ramos as part of the results which showed that the company's EBITDA margin in Africa declined by 32.4% in Q4 2017 and 15.9% year-on-year.
Airtel Rwanda has since announced that the merged entity following the integration of Tigo customers, operations, people and infrastructure will culminate in the abandonment of the Tigo Rwanda brand and the use of Airtel Rwanda as the name of the joint entity.
Customers will not be required to re-register their SIM cards, according to an announcement from Airtel Rwanda.
"Customers' SIM cards and mobile numbers will not change. There will be no interruption to customers' experience on both networks for the moment," reads a statement published by Airtel Rwanda on its website earlier this month.
Tigo Rwanda is being sold to Airtel Rwanda over two years in a mix of cash, vendor loan note and earn out.