2012 Uganda - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

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Last updated: 26 Sep 2012 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 75

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, including international and domestic fibre;
  • Mobile voice and data markets, including 3G, 4G;
  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU);
  • Internet and broadband development and growth;
  • Broadband pricing – ADSL, WiMAX, WiFi, EV-DO, 3G, 4G (LTE), Metro Ethernet;
  • Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile);
  • Digital media;
  • Mobile money transfer and m-banking services.

Companies covered in this report:

Uganda Telecom (UTL, LAP Green, Telecel, Orascom, Deutsche Telekom); MTN; Bharti Airtel (Zain, Celtel); Warid Telecom (Essar); 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; GOtv; Jump TV; Zuku TV (Wananchi); Standard Chartered Bank; Monitise; American Tower Corporation (ATC).

Researcher:- Peter Lange
Current publication date:- September 2012 (11th Edition)

Executive Summary

Libyan government back in control of Uganda Telecom

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 (UT) 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). The operators started increasing their tariffs again in 2011 and at the same time are trying to find ways of generating additional revenue streams. 3G and 4G mobile 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 a traditional bank account.

A simplified and converged licensing regime has significantly reduced barriers to market entry and increased competition. Fixed GSM and WiMAX in combination with VoIP now make up more than half of the fixed telephony market. Improvements in infrastructure are making broadband access more affordable and enabling converged voice, data and digital media services.

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 fallen to a fraction of their original cost, but retail pricing of broadband services is still relatively expensive, especially when considering purchasing power parity. However, wireless and mobile technologies such as WiMAX, CDMA-2000 1x EV-DO, HSPA and LTE are now putting the internet within reach of a much wider part of the population than DSL and other traditional fixed-line services have in the past.

Uganda Telecom is majority-owned by the Libyan government’s investment arm, the Libya Africa Portfolio (LapGreen). Its assets were frozen under UN sanctions against the Gaddafi regime in 2011, but in early 2012 the company stated its commitment to provide UT's funding needs for the year, and in May 2012 its control over UT was reinstated.

With market penetration still below the regional average and annual GDP growth forecast to rise from currently 4% to 7% by 2015, growth prospects for Uganda’s telecoms sector are excellent.

Market highlights:

  • More than 90% of internet connections are mobile;
  • 3G mobile broadband pricing varies widely, consolidation expected;
  • First 4G (LTE) network launched;
  • Major tower outsourcing deal signed;
  • Libyan government back in control of Uganda Telecom;
  • New regulations for SIM card registration may put temporary pressure on subscriber growth;
  • Strong fixed-line growth fuelled by wireless systems;
  • Alternative fibre link to international submarine cables to be built.

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


Penetration rate







(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

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