Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Digital Inclusion

Interview: Econet Wireless Burundi CEO Nepias Njaravaza on growing mobile penetration

Econet Wireless Burundi CEO Nepias Njaravaza sat down with Connecting Africa Editor Paula Gilbert at the NOVACOM Digital Transformation Strategy Summit in Franschhoek, South Africa, to talk about the mobile market in Burundi.

Econet Wireless Burundi is the biggest mobile operator in the country with almost 55% market share in mid-2023, according to statistics from market research company Omdia, a sister company of Connecting Africa.

Econet is currently upgrading the capacity on its 3G network and rolling out more 4G sites.

"If you look at it as of now, I can't say Burundi is ready for 5G. If you have got a good 4G and 3G network, you can still drive Internet penetration and that is where our focus is as of now," he said.

Njaravaza said 3G penetration is widespread, but 4G is still only in major towns and cities. Econet is working to expand the network further afield.

"Internet penetration is not only about rolling out the network. There are also other issues that you have to consider. The issue of literacy is one pillar in terms of driving Internet penetration in any country. When you look at the affordability of the devices it's another key pillar that we have to consider," Njaravaza added.

With a population of over 13 million people, Burundi has a mobile penetration rate of around 60% but an Internet penetration rate of just 25%. Njaravaza said this means huge potential for data services in the country.

"About five years ago [Internet penetration] was at 5% and now we are sitting at about 25%, and with the effort we are making in the country we hope that in the next five years we will be able to reach 50%," he said.

Njaravaza discussed the fintech market in Burundi and the evolution of mobile financial services beyond peer-to-peer payments.

He also commented on the startup ecosystem in Burundi and how the country is lagging behind its East African neighbors when it comes to financial inclusion, but that concerted efforts are being made by the government and the private sector to drive inclusion and Internet penetration.

Njaravaza said that Econet was the first operator in Burundi to roll out mobile financial services and to launch mobile data services in the country.

"In the short to medium term, we are focusing on data, we are heavily investing in data and also we are heavily investing in mobile financial services platforms that are agile because that is what we are seeing as the future," he continued.

Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

KaiOS targets merchant market for growth, digital inclusion

KaiOS Technologies, the creator of a mobile operating system for smart feature phones, is piloting affordable merchant payment terminals - which look like feature phones - in Africa to help underserved merchants and transport providers accept digital payments solutions.

Story

Ilara Health aims to improve quality of care in Kenya

Kenyan healthtech startup Ilara Health aspires to improve the quality of care in the country's clinics by providing equipment financing and digitizing facilities with its software.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Guest Perspectives

Story

Leadership Lessons: The importance of mentorship for career growth

By Nollie Maoto

Nollie Maoto, First Rand Group's compliance chief data and analytics officer and Africa Tech Festival Leadership Council member, reflects on the importance of mentorship for career growth for African women in data analytics.

Story

Omdia View: May 2024

By Omdia Analysts

May 2024's telecoms highlights in the Middle East and Africa included African 5G subscriptions surpassing 5 million, growth from SpaceX's satellite Internet service Starlink, and a major fiber partnership in the Middle East and North Africa.

More Guest Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Upcoming events

Cyber Revolution Summit
August 9, 2024
Gaborone, Botswana
Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 12-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.

Story

The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Follow us on X

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up
Tag id test-002