The telecommunications industry has not yet reached all potential consumers and has room to grow. Mobile telephones have a 44 percent penetration rate; internet penetration is approximately three percent of the total population. The DRC has not yet reached 5G and is still developing its 3G/4G network. The low penetration rate leaves plenty of potential for development of higher-speed networks and linking the DRC to submarine cables linked to Europe. Hampered by poor physical infrastructure, particularly last mile infrastructure, mobile telephone service has grown to fill the role traditionally filled by land line telecommunications. Less than one percent of internet connections in the country are land line connections, making the country’s mobile telephone operators de facto internet service providers for private and commercial uses. Cybersecurity is a key field barely explored in the DRC.
- Internet distribution
- Mobile applications
- Telecom equipment supply
- Telecom software and new technology
- Data centers & data management
The DRC presents opportunities for U.S. ICT firms to develop and market applications for mobile telephone users, to partner with local telecommunications ventures to expand their networks, and to offer cybersecurity services to businesses operating in the DRC. In 2015, Water Distribution Company (REGIDESO), the parastatal water distribution system, completed a data center designed to improve billing and payment for water services, relying heavily on American firms to execute the undertaking.
The GDRC’s vision in this sector is to bring the DRC fully into the digital economy. A significant increase in the contribution of ICTs to the country’s economic and social development is expected, benefiting players in the sector, public services, and households. To achieve this vision, this sector will require governance improvements, investment in the national broadband infrastructure, improvement of the access of the population to the ICT, and a transition from analogical to digital television signals (TNT).
The GDRC hopes to see the first Congolese satellite put into orbit, the completion of 5,000 km of national fiber optic backbone, and the connection of 30 million landline and mobile phones [timeline?]. By 2030, the entire public administration as well as the specialized services of the border crossings is projected to be computerized, and the country will need both sufficient and qualified human capital in the field of ICT. By 2050, the goal is to have more than 50 percent of households using fiber optics and more than 90 percent will be able to connect to the internet via mobile phone. The DRC will have to develop its robotics market (digital technology) and will become an important market for phones, software, video games and 3D technology. E-commerce is also expected to grow significantly.