According to the government, the democratisation of access to telecommunications services and information and communication technologies (ICT) is one of the fundamental reasons for the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector in the Central African Republic. However, its aim is to open up the sector to private capital in order to make it more competitive and thus turn it into a growth lever for the national economy.
Since 2007, four private operators and one parastatal company have been competing for the mobile phone segment in the country. This increasing competition in turn promotes strong growth in the number of subscribers as well as the development of new services. The number of subscribers to mobile telephone networks in the Central African Republic increased from 24,000 in 2000 to more than 1.5 million in 2017. According to data collected by the author in April 2019, with approximately 550,000 subscribers and national coverage in more than 50 cities, Telecel Centrafrique, a subsidiary of the Niel Telecom group and the first operator to establish in the CAR in 1994, is the market leader. It is followed by Orange Centrafrique (a subsidiary of the French group Orange, active in the country since 2007), Moov Centrafrique and Azur Centrafrique.
While mobile operators officially claim not to have shared any of their confidential data with the government, the Agence de Régulation des Télécommunications (Telecommunications Regulatory Authority - ART), a public office mainly under the supervision of the Ministry of Telecommunications, explains that it only collects statistical data concerning their traffic, the number of their subscribers, etc, for market monitoring purposes.