Burundi mobile users up 19 pct in 2011-regulator

BUJUMBURA Wed May 23, 2012 9:01am EDT

BUJUMBURA May 23 (Reuters) - Burundi's mobile phone subscribers grew by 19 percent in 2011 from a year before thanks to investment in new technology and aggressive marketing by mobile operators, the country's telecom regulator said on Wednesday.

The number of mobile subscribers in the country increased to 1.98 million last year, said regulator ARCT in its report.

Burundi has five active mobile operators with U-com, owned by Egypt's Orascom, the largest player.

The remaining users are shared between Econet, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless from South Africa, state-owned ONAMOB, Africell owned by VTL Holdings of Dubai and Lacell SU from Nepal.

The landlocked nation of 8 million people had 1.67 million mobile users in 2010, up from 1.08 million in 2009.

"Most operators now offer a 3G service, others are providing SIM cards for $1 and handsets for $10. All this contributed to a fast growing mobile telephone industry in Burundi," said ARCT in its annual report. (Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana; Editing by George Obulutsa and Mark Potter)

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