UN succeeds in brokering talks between Libya’s warring factions
During the last few years Libya has struggled to rebuild its economy and infrastructure following disruption caused by the civil war and the subsequent political unrest.
Much of the telecom infrastructure was destroyed or stolen following the 2011 disturbances, including about a quarter of the country’s mobile tower sites. Reconstruction efforts continue to be stymied by political and military disturbances which affect much of the country. With two opposing administrations, based in Tripoli and Tobruk, there is no consensus as to how to rebuild infrastructure on a national scale despite numerous attempts to reach a political solution. Although progress is being made in rebuilding telecom infrastructure, the mobile towers remain a target of the warring factions while civilians regularly cut telecom cables by mistake while engaged in construction work.
In early 2015 the state telco (along with many other businesses) decamped to Malta, and since then the two rival administrations have fought in the Maltese courts to assume control of the company. The economy, which largely collapsed in 2013 and 2014 with dramatic falls in GDP, showed remarkable growth in 2017 and 2018, though this was based on a very low base. Growth in 2019 was a more moderate 9.9% though growth for 2020 is expected to be negative 58%. This is largely due to the effects of the pandemic, as also to the collapse in the price of oil on international markets
The destruction to telecom infrastructure aside, it remains superior to those in many other African countries. Considerable investment has been made in a national fibre backbone network, while upgrades have been made to existing international cables. Investments in telecom infrastructure totalling $10 billion were earmarked for the 15 years to 2020, though given the civil strife in recent years it is difficult to say how much of this has been put into effect.
The mobile market is supported by some of the lowest tariffs on the continent. Opportunities remain in the broadband sector where market penetration is still relatively low. To stimulate take-up of services, the regulator in mid-2020 imposed a 50% reduction in internet subscription charges. As for mobile broadband, LTE services have only a limited reach and thus the development of this sector has been slow. A limited 5G service was made available in November 2019.
BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.
Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.
The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.Key Developments:
Companies mentioned in this report:
- LPTIC contracts Ericsson to maintain and develop the country’s telecom networks and infrastructure;
- Government orders 50% reduction in internet subscription fees;
- Al-Madar extends LTE service to Benghazi and Misurata;
- LTT launches LTE-based fixed broadband network;
- LPTIC signs $80 million contract with Arabsat to provide satellite broadband services;
- Italy-Libya cable upgraded to support 100Gb/s technology;
- Report update includes Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of Covid-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.
Al-Madar, Libyana, LibyaPhone, Libya Post and Telecommunication Information Technology (LPTIC), General Posts and Telecommunications Company (GPTC), Hatif Libya, Libya International Telecom Company (LITC), Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT), Lap Green Networks, Gateway, Thuraya, Phoenicia Group, Hermes Communications, Wiseband, Bentley Walker, Virtual Dimensions, Ericsson, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, ZTE, Trans-Sahara