Côte d'Ivoire

2G Population Coverage98%
3G Population Coverage60%
4G Population Coverage47%
OTT PolicyDiscussion document Dec 2016
OTT RegulationNo
OTT TaxNo
SIM Card RegistrationsYes
Coverage Source: ITU Database July 2018
Map Source: Collins Bartholomew Mobile Coverage Explorer dataset

In 2016, the Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications de Cote d’Ivoire (ARTCI) launched a discussion document on OTT apps with the purpose of facilitating discussion on the smooth running of the digital economy (Download Document). The discussion document lists several factors of concern, such as fake news, online addiction, child pornography and data privacy. The discussion document listed several factors of concern, such as fake news, online addiction, child pornography and data privacy. The discussion document also focused on tax optimisation (defined as the transfer of profits to another country without payment of taxes) and income cannibalisation (defined as the reduction of voice and SMS revenues due to OTT apps). The discussion document offered two recommendations:

1) Develop African payment platforms so that money is no longer transferred to European jurisdictions but kept in Africa; and
2) Encourage the development of operator-specific OTT apps.

The imposition of a mobile money tax of 0.5% on 1 January 2019 will make achieving the first objective of developing local payment platforms challenging.

The second objective of encouraging operator specific OTT applications is also difficult in an environment where cross-platform connectivity is a key selling point to consumers. For example, WhatsApp has 1.5 billion users because it is cross-platform and global. 

Orange passed MTN as largest operator in 2015 (Figure 2). Its revenues have constantly increased, except for 2014 where it suffered a drop in fixed-line revenues (Figure 1).

For MTN, 2018 was the first year that overall revenues declined. Voice revenues dropped while data and SMS revenues  both increased (Table 1). Interconnection increased sharply by 30%, which in combination is falling voice revenues may indicate changes in traffic flows between Orange and MTN subscribers.

Several regulatory interventions, such as the withdrawal of the fourth mobile license, a new tax on each mobile money transaction of 0.5%, and Quality of Service fines affected the ICT sector. MTN’s Government and regulatory costs, for example, increased by 13% between 2017 and 2018. In addition, competition is causing some changes, with interconnection costs for MTN increasing sharply, probably as a result of losing customers to Orange and other operators. 

The increased cost and lower revenues lead to a drop in MTNs EBITDA margin from 32% to 22% in 2018.