The Evolving Nature of Chinese Telecommunications Investment in the DRC

Image: Flickr, Kārlis Dambrāns
Image: Flickr, Kārlis Dambrāns

ZTE was the first Chinese company to invest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) telecommunications sector, acquiring a majority shareholding in mobile phone operator, Congo Chine Télécoms (CCT), in 2000.

CCT is popular with low-income users for its inexpensive call rates, but has not been profitable, and in 2011 both ZTE and the DRC government sold their shares to France Telecom-Orange. Huawei and the China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC) arrived in the DRC several years after ZTE, and have from the outset pursued entirely business-oriented strategies, apparently unaffected by wider political considerations. The CITCC enjoyed initial success but has since fared less well, whereas Huawei has gained market share steadily in the provision of telecommunications equipment to mobile phone service providers. ZTE and Huawei are increasingly bitter rivals in international markets, and China’s government has declined to become involved in their disputes. This rivalry, however, appears not to have extended to the DRC. China is becoming increasingly dominant in the provision of telecommunications equipment to the DRC market. However, it is retreating from the country’s mobile phone operating business, which is controlled by Indian and European companies.

11 Nov 2011