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Market Research Report

The African FTTH Boom: Last Mile Fibre Dynamics, Economics and Outlook in African Markets

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Published Content info 100 Pages
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The African FTTH Boom: Last Mile Fibre Dynamics, Economics and Outlook in African Markets
Published: December 28, 2016 Content info: 100 Pages

Africa is witnessing an FTTH boom, and we estimate that the total number of FTTH connec-tions in Africa passed the 500k mark in the third quarter of 2016. Five markets account for 85% of Africa's FTTH/P homes passed: South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco and Mauritius. But this boom is about more than the top 5; FTTH/P roll-outs have been initiated in at least 15 markets outside of the top 5 above - from Cameroon to Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville, at various levels of scale. Still, we continue to despair at Nigeria's inability to live up to its significant potential.

Africa is a predominantly mobile broadband market. But we find that the notion of an almost mobile-only African connectivity marketplace is largely fallacious. Urban professionals de-mand the same user experience at home that they are getting at work, or that they have seen in their travels. In South Africa, rich communities frustrated by existing broadband services took matters in their own hands and got providers to bid to offer them fibre ser-vices. Other drivers are the increased availability and consumption of bandwidth-hungry content, from video streaming services (Netflix, iRoko), to cloud-based enterprise applica-tions, along with a realization that 3G/4G, ADSL (in its typical African form at least) just aren't cutting it for some use cases.

Strategically, we do not believe top tier operators can afford to lose too much ground on FTTH as their traditional mobile models are getting squeezed. They would be losing control on what will become the primary conduit for enterprise and home digital life - not for all, but for some of the market's most critical segments. In turn, we expect that many will seek to catch up - either through greenfield build-outs, or preferably through acquisitions of FTTH players.

Our assessment of a number of FTTH rollout projects puts capex per home passed in the $600 to $2500 range. Capex would typically be higher than the above range in the early phases of deployment; in addition, some markets require substantially more trenching and civil works, while in others governments charge excessively high rights of way fees. On the basis of our capex/home passed estimates, we extrapolate that African markets will need between $2.3bn and $4bn over the 2016-2020 period to hit our FTTH homes passed (and connections) projections. This means a potential capex of about $600m to $1bn per year over that period.

Africa's FTTH growth runway is substantial. As noted, FTTH only touches ~2% of Africa's fixed broadband addressable target market. Increasing penetration of this addressable demand by a mere five percentage points in sub-Saharan Africa alone would equate to adding half a million new FTTH connections over the next five years. Further, we expect Southern and East Africa (Kenya and South Africa, principally) to account for ~80% of Africa's FTTH/P connections. The regional gap will get worse: West Africa's FTTH lag will be substantial, absent urgent regulatory action (which we do not expect). In effect, African FTTH growth will be driven by a core group of 10-12 markets, with ultimate impact depend-ing on how supply fundamentals evolve.

The African FTTH Boom: Last Mile Fibre Dynamics, Economics and Outlook in African Markets takes an extensive look at FTTH adoption patterns across the continent, including key infrastructure, market structure and regulatory drivers along with current and projected levels of homes passed and connected. It provides a mapping of which markets appear most attractive for an FTTH rollout; it offers an in-depth analysis of the addressable market for FTTH in Africa, from businesses in central business districts to gated communities and beyond. Finally, the report takes a close look at African FTTH economics, from cost of deployment to ARPU, profitability and potential returns, along with the implications of those dynamics on projected rollout and adoption.

Sample key findings of The African FTTH Boom: Last Mile Fibre Dynamics, Economics and Outlook in African Markets include the following:

  • Africa is in the midst of an FTTH boom - an increasingly loud FTTH revolution that is made even more notable by the unique nature of some of its characteristics. Be-tween 2014 and 2016, the number of homes and premises passed by fibre has more than tripled. The cumulative number of African homes/premises passed by fibre crossed the 1m mark in 2016. We expect it to hit the 2m mark in 2017.
  • The total number of FTTH connections in Africa passed the 500k mark in 2016. Recent growth has been strong: around 75% of Africa's FTTH connection growth since 2010 has occurred over the past two years. Last mile Fibre is upending Africa's retail broadband market dynamics - from bandwidth speeds to user experience, pricing models and market share upheavals, it's a whole new game.

The African FTTH Boom: Last Mile Fibre Dynamics, Economics and Outlook in African Markets is published in PDF format.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



  • African FTTH - The 1m Homes/Premises Passed Rubicon Has Been Crossed
  • Five Markets are Driving 85% of African FTTH Deployments
  • The Half a Million FTTH Connection Mark Has Been Crossed
  • Country View: Mauritius is Africa's Largest FTTH Market - but SA is About to Take Over
  • Africa's FTTH Take-Up Rates - Building Where the Demand Is
  • Africa's Largest Broadband Markets are Not Necessarily its Largest FTTH/P Markets
  • FTTH Penetration - A Mauritius Outlier, and Few Markets are Above the 1% Household Penetration Mark
  • Early Days: FTTH has Touched Only 2% of the African FBB Addressable Market
  • Early Days: There is a Material Penetration Gap Between FBB and FTTH
  • Sharp Contrasts - A Few Markets Go all FTTH, While Some of the Largest FBB Markets Have Virtually None
  • How African FTTH Compares to Other Regions' - Still Smallish, but Rising Fast


  • What Is Driving Recent African FTTH Growth?
  • "ADSL Doesn't Cut It" - Wholesale Fibre, Netflix Effect and the Rising Middle Class
  • "ADSL Doesn't Cut It" - Wholesale Fibre, Netflix Effect and the Rising Middle Class
  • Other FTTH Drivers - Key Player Strategies and Government Broadband Push
  • African Regulating is a Significant Obstacle to the Rollout of Ultra fast Broadband Infrastructure
  • In many Markets, Regulatory Action Seems Designed to Prevent Competition in the Broadband Space
  • With a few Exceptions, African Market Structure is not Optimized for Ultra Fast Broadband Growth
  • Breaking Down Optimal FTTH Market Structures
  • What Works Best for FTTH? NBN Models vs. Last Mile Unbundling
  • What Works Best for FTTH? Open Access Wholesale FTTH vs. Closed Access Network Build


  • African FTTH Demand: From a Population of 1.2bn to an FTTH Addressable Market of ~ 10m
  • Understanding African FTTH Demand - Households and Businesses, from Parkhurst to Yopougon
  • African FTTH Outlook: In the Short Run, Two Main Phases of Deployments


  • Which African Markets are Ripe for FTTH?
    • The Best FTTH Opportunities are where Broadband is and Fibre Isn't (Quite Yet)
    • Mature African Broadband Markets Offer the Best Opportunities for FTTH - Others Will Leapfrong
  • How do ADSL, MBB, FWA Impact FTTH - & Vice-Versa?
    • FTTH vs, ADSL - The Self Cannibalization Case
    • FTTH vs, ADSL - The Competitive Cannibalization Case
    • FTTH vs, ADSL - When (and Where) ADSL Keeps Up with FTTH
    • The Last Stalwarts - ADSL Will do Just Fine, Thank You
  • Does MBB Help or Hurt the Fibre Case?
    • FBB Is more of a Precursor of FTTH Potential than MBB is...
    • ...But MBB Helps Build the Economic Case for FTTH


  • At a Macro Level, a~$9bn African Retail Broadband Opportunity
  • African CapEx/Home Passed - Mostly Within Expected Range
  • Africa Needs ~$1bn in Annual CapEx to Hit Our FTTH Roll-Out Projections - High, but Hardly Excessive
  • FTTH Economic Levers - The CapEx/Home Passed Problem
  • FTTH Economic Levers - ARPUs and FTTH Take-Up Rates
  • FTTH Economic - Manageable in Phases 1 & 2, Rather Complicated Thereafter


  • FTTH Pricing - No Fibre Premium Here
  • How FTTH Pricing and Speeds Compare to ADSL, Mobile
  • Competitive Dynamics: Top Tier Telcos Can No Longer Ignore FTTH
  • Mapping Out the Outlook for FTTH: East and Southern Africa
  • Mapping Out the Outlook for FTTH: West & North Africa
  • Sample FTTH Deployment Plans


  • African FTTH Homes Passed - Towards the 5m Mark - Perhaps even 10m
  • Africa FTTH - A ~2m FTTH Connection Target for 2020
  • Where is the FTTH Growth?
  • Africa FTTH 2020 - At Least 6 Markets Above the 1% Household Penetration Mark


  • Mauritius FTTH: On Path to Become Africa's First Gigabit Economy
  • South Africa: Africa's Deepest Combination of FTTH Demand and Supply Fundamentals
  • Kenya FTTH: Has Done Very Well, but there's Room for More
  • Tanzania FTTH: Fibre Wholesale Economics Hold Up Potential
  • Zimbabwe FTTH: Somehow Thriving Despite Terrible Macro-Economic Environment
  • Nigeria: An African FTTH Tragedy
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