2011 Uganda - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

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Last updated: 14 Mar 2012 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 64

Analyst: Peter Lange

Publication Overview

This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Uganda’s telecommunications market. Subjects covered include:

  • One of the most competitive mobile markets in the region;
  • Key statistics;
  • Market and industry overviews;
  • Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
  • Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
  • Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
  • Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
  • Infrastructure development;
  • International, national and last-mile fibre developments;
  • Mobile voice and data markets, including 3G;
  • Internet and broadband development and growth;
  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU);
  • Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile);
  • WiMAX and 3G mobile broadband rollouts;
  • The rapid growth of mobile money transfer and m-banking services.

Companies covered in this report:

Uganda Telecom (UTL, LAP Green), MTN, Bharti Airtel (Zain, Celtel), Warid Telecom, Orange (HiTS Telecom), i-Tel, Simba Telecoms, Seacom, Infocom (Altech), Internet Solutions, UTL Online, Africa Online, Spacenet, The Broadband Company (TMP), Wateen Telecoms, Smile Telecom, Foris Telecom, Talk Telecom, Mo Telecom, Goal Technology Solutions (GTS), UMEME, WBS Television, NTV Uganda, MultiChoice, Jump TV, Wananchi

Researcher:- Peter Lange
Current publication date:- March 2012 (10th Edition)

Executive Summary

Fibre, mobile broadband and mobile banking are revolutionising Uganda’s telecom sector

Uganda is one of the fastest and most consistently growing economies in Africa. The introduction of mobile telephony has revolutionised its telecommunications sector since Celtel/Zain (now Bharti Airtel) launched the first network in 1995, followed by MTN in 1998, Uganda Telecom in 2001, Warid Telecom in 2008 and HiTS Telecom, in which France Telecom’s mobile unit Orange bought a majority stake in 2009. The intensified competition has led to a price war which has accelerated subscriber growth but also the decline in average revenue per user (ARPU). However, with market penetration still below the regional average, hundreds of millions of US dollars are being invested into new infrastructure. The operators started to increase their tariffs again in 2011 and at the same time are trying to find ways of generating additional revenue streams. Mobile data and 3G broadband services as well as mobile money transfer and m-banking services are at the forefront of this development in a country where less than 20% of the population currently has Internet access or holds bank accounts.

A simplified and converged licensing regime has significantly reduced barriers to market entry and increased competition. MTN also competes with Uganda Telecom in the fixed-line market. Penetration is low in this sector but has seen a renaissance recently on the back of wireless local loop (WLL) network rollouts, prepaid services and an increasing demand for broadband access. 3% of fixed lines are using fibre for the last mile.

Being landlocked, the country depended entirely on satellites for its international Internet connectivity until 2009 when several international submarine fibre optic cables landed on the African east coast, to which Uganda is now connected via a national fibre backbone extending to its borders. By 2012, prices for international bandwidth had plummeted to a fraction of their original cost. In parallel, wireless technologies such as WiMAX and 3G mobile services have brought the Internet within reach of a much wider part of the population than the limited fixed-line DSL services ever have. These improvements in infrastructure are revolutionising the market by making broadband access more affordable and enabling converged voice, data and video/entertainment services.

With GDP growth forecast to remain stable at around 7% per annum until at least 2016, growth prospects for Uganda’s telecoms sector are excellent.

Market highlights:

  • Mergers & Acquisitions in the mobile sector;
  • Arrival of international fibre bandwidth has revolutionised the broadband market;
  • Pricing of international fibre capacity vs. satellite and its effect on retail pricing;
  • National fibre backbone rollout;
  • 3% of fixed lines use fibre for the last mile;
  • 90% of all internet subscriptions are mobile;
  • Expansion of services to rural areas through rural development fund;
  • Smart Grid project;
  • Overview of all mobile money transfer services;
  • Profiles of major players in all market sectors;
  • Forecasts for Uganda’s mobile market to 2013 and 2016.

Estimated market penetration rates in Uganda’s telecoms sector – end-2012


Penetration rate







(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

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