Researcher:- Peter Lange Current publication date:- July 2014 (13th Edition)
Seventh network launches amidst consolidation in crowded mobile sector
The introduction of mobile telephony has revolutionised Uganda’s telecommunications industry, but with seven networks the market is overcrowded, which has led to a price war and consolidation among the operators. However, not long after the No. 2 in the market (Bharti Airtel) took over the No.4 (Warid Telecom), a new operator (Smart Telecom) launched in March 2014. Two months later, the new No. 4 (Orange) decided to exit the market and sold to Lebanon-based Africell.
The price war has accelerated subscriber growth but also reduced the average revenue per user (ARPU) and quality of service (QoS). The network operators started raising their tariffs again and 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.
Fixed-line and DSL penetration is low but has seen a renaissance on the back of wireless local loop (WLL) rollouts, prepaid services and an increasing demand for broadband access. Fixed GSM and WiMAX in combination with VoIP now make up more than half of the fixed telephony market.
Being landlocked, the country depended entirely on satellites for its international connectivity until 2009 when several international submarine fibre optic cables landed on the African east coast. Uganda is now connected via a national fibre backbone extending to its borders with neighbouring coastal countries. By 2013, 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, EV-DO, HSPA and LTE are now putting the internet within reach of a much wider part of the population than traditional fixed-line DSL services have in the past. These improvements in infrastructure are revolutionising the market and enabling converged voice, data and digital media services.
At around 50%, total teledensity is still below the African average. A simplified and converged licensing regime has significantly reduced barriers to market entry and increased competition. With annual GDP growth forecast to remain stable at around 7% p.a., growth prospects for Uganda’s telecoms sector are excellent.
Seventh network launches amidst consolidation in crowded mobile sector;
Opportunities for MVNOs and tower outsourcing companies;
Three 4G (LTE) networks launched;
Growth returns to the market after wave of SIM card deregistrations;
More than 95% of internet connections are mobile;
Internet subscriptions growing at more than 100% per year;
Most fixed lines are provided using wireless or mobile systems;
Fibre optic network rollouts continue;
New fibre links to international submarine cables.
Estimated market penetration rates in Uganda’s telecoms sector – end-2014
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
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), Africell (Lintel).
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year
Paul, Many thanks for your inputs yesterday. You provided a compelling different perspective to our traditional infrastructure focus and this is valuable for our future planning. I also had very favourable feedback from our participants on your involvement.