Liberia - TelecommunicationsLiberia - Telecommunications
Despite its relatively small population, Liberia has an active telecommunications sector in which new telecommunications services are regularly offered to consumers. The main players in the telecom sector include two private GSM mobile network operators, Lonestar Cell MTN and Orange Liberia (formerly Cellcom), and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) and Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (Libtelco). The GSM network operators compete for customers offering services over their wireless networks. The government owned Libtelco is the sole provider of wireless fixed line services, mainly to public entities. The growth of mobile and internet use continues at a robust pace. In the LTA’s report “Public Consultation Document on the Definition of Relevant Telecommunications Markets,” published in 2016, mobile penetration stands at approximately 75 percent while internet penetration is at 21 percent; both numbers are high relative to Liberia’s income. See detail, According to the report, “Anecdotal evidence suggests that these high penetration rates are influenced by the fact that many individuals have multiple SIM cards to take advantage of lower on-net prices and promotions; thus inflating the penetration rates of mobile voice and (mobile) internet.” In the mobile sector, competition has led to some of the lowest call prices in Africa despite the country’s power infrastructure handicaps. The arrival of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) Submarine Cable and the launch of the Cable Consortium of Liberia (CCL) in 2013 had a major impact in the supply of retail broadband Internet. The CCL is owned jointly by the Government of Liberia (55%), Libtelco (20%), and the two mobile network operators: Lonestar MTN (10%) and Orange Liberia (10%). Internet and broadband networks are available through several commercial wireless internet service providers (ISPs) and as well as the main GSM mobile networks using GPRS, EDGE, HSPA and WiMAX technologies. Generally, Liberia’s telecommunications sector is expected to experience substantial improvement through the international fiber optic submarine cable, but it requires considerable investment in domestic fixed-line infrastructure. The government, through Libtelco, and the mobile network operators continue to invest in building a fiber ring around Monrovia and its environs to increase broadband penetration. When fully completed and functional, the cost of international connectivity will sharply decline, thus significantly increasing the numbers of internet subscribers. However, the mobile operators face major constraints including the high cost of electric power (utilities), poor national infrastructure (roads), high taxation including import duties and tariffs, an insufficient customer base, inadequate skilled manpower, problems in ensuring network security, and the high cost of network operations and maintenance.
The Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) is the state-owned regulator, enforcing regulations to raise revenue and to monitor quality of telecommunication services in the country. The LTA issues licenses to radio and television stations, and each category of licenses is valid for 12 calendar months, renewable annually. Over the years, the LTA has made significant interventions to address and counter unfair market practices that could have the potential to adversely impact growth of the telecommunications sector. There are three categories of radio stations, including commercial broadcast, non-commercial broadcast, and community broadcast. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) is the government agency responsible for telecommunications services. It is the policy-making and oversight body for Liberia’s ICT sector.
Sub-sector best prospects for U.S. companies range from providing high speed internet and system development to web design and hosting. Provision of ICT solutions and capacity building is also another prospect area for investment in the sector.
Investment opportunities include software development, systems design and development, open source software/web development and integration, corporate training, IT infrastructure development, and provision of ICT solutions to companies, local businesses, schools, hospitals, and residences.
Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA)
Ministry of Post & Telecommunications (MOPT)
Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (Libtelco)
Lonestar Cell MTN
Cable Consortium of Liberia (CCL)
Liberia Information and Communication Technology Trade Development and Promotion