Algeria holds an important position in the Middle East due to the country’s strategic location, covering areas of the Mediterranean and Africa (as the continent’s fourth largest nation), as well as its proximity to the Arab world. Moreover, it holds rich and abundant sources of natural gas and petroleum.

In recent years, Algeria has been hit by the tradeoff that comes from the strong trend towards weaning off fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy sources. To balance this paradigm shift, the government has focused on the development of its telecommunications sector, which is seen as a main pillar of the infrastructure needed for the country’s digital transformation strategy.

The Nation’s ICT Strategy

Algeria Telecommunications Corporation, the main state-owned telephone company in Algeria, aims at providing a high-capacity, innovative network to accommodate surging data traffic and a future of diversified 5G use cases. It has formed a mid-term strategic plan to implement a transport network with homogenized, optimized topology and automation capabilities that guarantee bandwidth and future-proof its infrastructure in an ever-growing market. As of January 2023, there were 32.09 million internet users in Algeria. Algeria’s internet penetration rate stood at 70.9 percent of the total population at the start of 2023. Numbers show that internet users in Algeria increased by some 553,000 (+1.8 percent) between 2022 and 2023.

Primary Operators:

Three main telecom operators (listed below) compete against each other in Algeria’s telecom sector, with Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei serving as the country’s three major vendors.

Ooredoo Algeria: Ooredoo Algeria started operations in Algeria in 2003, under the Nedjma banner, as the first multimedia mobile telephony operator. Nedjma officially became Ooredoo on November 21, 2013, as an Algerian subsidiary of the Ooredoo Group.

Ooredoo Algeria offers a range of innovative offers to individual customers and companies in compliance with international standards. The company saw a 2% growth in its customer base to reach 13.0 million customers in 2022, compared to 12.8 million in 2021.

Most recently, as a part of efforts to enhance digital services, Ooredoo Algeria collaborated with the Algerian National Bank and signed an agreement to work together to promote digital services. The partnership will enable account holders to pay for Ooredoo services via ATM cash machines and the Wimpay e-banking service, which supports QR code payments and is available via a dedicated app at no extra charge. Ooredoo Algeria has additionally rolled out new 4G sites, offering 16% additional capacity on the 4G network. Ooredoo Algeria continues to maintain consistently high rankings in the relevant data network performance benchmarks.

Mobilis: A subsidiary of Groupe Télécom Algérie, Mobilis is the largest of the three major mobile operators in Algeria. It became independent in August 2003. Mobilis led the mobile market in terms of total mobile subscriptions in 2021, supported by its strong focus on the prepaid segment. The telco is focusing on enhancing the service quality of its 4G mobile network. The state-owned operator has begun testing 5G and developing a 5G-ready infrastructure in partnership with Huawei.

Djezzy: The second-largest mobile operator, Djezzy, is focusing on network modernization and has completed trials using microwave carrier aggregation technology in partnership with Nokia and Ericsson. This move is expected to boost network capacity and address the growing mobile traffic demand in the country. Djezzy is owned by Algeria Telecom.

According to the latest mobile telephony report published by the ARCPE, Djezzy controlled 31.04% of the market share in December 2021, compared to 42.18% for Mobilis and 26.78% for Ooredoo.

Telecom Market Value

The total telecom services revenue in Algeria was valued at $3 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 1% during the forecast period, 2021–2026, according to Globaldata. The growth is driven by growing mobile internet subscriptions, supported by ongoing investments in 4G/LTE network expansions by major MNOs. To plan their future investments, Algerian operators requested clarification of the government's 5G strategy in 2021. In recent developments, the minister of post and telecommunications, Karim Bibi Triki, announced that Algeria aims to launch 5G mobile networks “soon” and is currently assessing how to free up and optimize the needed radio frequency spectrum. The 5G initiative had not been prioritized by the government due to the urgent need to improve service coverage in some parts of Algeria. The ministry had suggested the commercial 5G launch by the end of 2022.

Regulatory Authority

In November 2021, the Post and Electronic Communication Regulatory Authority (ARCPE) awarded an additional 900 MHz of mobile spectrum in the E-GSM band (880–890 MHz/925–935 MHz) to Algeria’s three telecom operators. The goal of the ARPCE is to improve data speeds and the quality of mobile broadband internet access in the country.

Connectivity Growth:

The growth in fixed broadband revenue has been attributed to investments in submarine fiber optic cable deployment to enhance nationwide broadband connectivity. Algeria boasts 200,000 km of fiber optic cable lines — SEA-ME-WE 4, Medex, Orval and a state-sponsored fourth — that will facilitate the introduction of 5G. The national transport network consists of seven regional NG-DWDM (New Generation Dense Wavelength-Division Multiplexing) loops, which are currently capable of transmitting around 3 terabits per second (Tbps).

Algeria Telecom’s next-generation IP metro network aims to provide quality service and an exceptional user experience, at scale. "The successful completion of the IP metro network modernization project by our vendor partners, will allow us to make the migration to IPV6 and the initiation of digital transformation, as well as the implementation of high-speed internet, as we best satisfy the needs of Algeria Telecom customers," says Adel Bentoumi, CEO of Algeria Telecom.

“The rapid growth of network traffic is a clear indication of the need for modernization and expansion of network capacity,” notes Allahoum Hocine, head of IP Core, Algeria Telecom.

Africa-1 Submarine

Algeria’s connectivity to the rest of the world is also facilitated by the Africa-1 submarine cable system that spans 10,000 km, initially landing in Kenya, Djibouti, Pakistan, the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. The system also lands in Sudan; crosses Egypt through diverse new terrestrial routes on the way to France; and further connects other countries in the Mediterranean, such as Algeria and Italy.

Investments and Initiatives in Telecom Technology

The Algerian government invested over $3.7 billion in its ICT infrastructure from 2010 to 2019, and from 2015 to 2019, its ICT equipment imports totaled $22 billion.  Despite significant progress in the development of its ICT infrastructure over the last decade, Algeria lags behind other African countries.

Slower fixed internet speeds have lowered the country’s international ranking. The government directed Algérie Télécom in 2021 to increase the minimum rate available from 4 MB/s to 10 MB/s.

The fierce price battle between the three MNOs — Mobilis, Djezzy and Ooredoo Algeria — along with taxes on voice and data services has harmed operator revenue.  Mobile broadband is largely based on 3G and LTE, and the data rates are also low in global terms. Although LTE is available in all provinces, much investment is required from the MNOs to improve the quality of service.

Experts suggest modernization of the ICT sector and significant IT investments for the country’s digital transformation. Algeria's ICT industry has a well-organized IT sector with specialized distributors, integrators and nationwide distribution channels that together provide products, solutions and services.

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