Uganda Telecoms Market Report

Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Publication Date: December 2023

Report Pages: 157

Africell exits as embattled Smile Telecom fights to remain in Uganda

A series of reforms within Uganda’s telecom sector have provided the country with one of the most competitive markets in the region. The entry of MTN Uganda as the second national operator to compete with Uganda Telecom in all telecom sectors fundamentally improved the availability and quality of services offered to end-users. Regulatory reforms in recent years have meant that Lycamobile Uganda and Airtel Uganda also now hold National Telecommunications Operator licences.

In line with the regulator’s licensing requirements by which Uganda-based companies should be broadly owned by Ugandans by mid-2022, MTN Group carried out a partial listing on the Uganda Stock Exchange in December 2021. Airtel is expected to follow suit later in 2022.

A simplified and converged licensing regime has significantly reduced barriers to market entry and increased competition, but this has also led to price wars which have dented operator revenue. Heightened competitive pressures against the backdrop of a weak consumer profile have worsened operating conditions, prompting the exit of Africell in 2021 while the financially strained Smile Telecom has pinned its hopes on a restructuring plan aimed at stabilising in the challenging market.

Fixed-line infrastructure remains poor, with low penetration, and as a result fixed-line broadband penetration is also particularly low. In consequence, consumers have largely depended on mobile infrastructure to provide voice and broadband services. There is sufficient capacity with LTE infrastructure to match data demand during the next few years. Nevertheless, MTN Uganda has anticipated the migration to 5G, having held trials in early 2020 though the roll out of 5G is not expected until later in 2022.

Key developments

  • MTN Group completes IPO of its Uganda unit;
  • Lycamobile Uganda is awarded the country’s fourth National Telecommunications Operator (NTO) licence;
  • MTN Uganda trials standalone 5G, receives additional spectrum in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands;
  • Liquid Intelligence Technologies expands reach of FttP services;
  • Alphabet drops Project Loon;
  • Smile Telecom inks restructuring deal;
  • Airtel aims to list Ugandan unit on the Uganda Stock Exchange by end-2022;
  • Government pursues the Digital Uganda Vision, develops a broadband infrastructure blueprint
  • Ministry of ICT and National Guidance announces a funding shortfall of UGX242.55 billion for FY2022/23;
  • Africell exits from Uganda market amid competitive pressures, SEACOM will acquire some of the telco’s infrastructure assets;
  • Report update includes the regulator's market data to end-2021, operator data to Q1 2022, updated Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report

Uganda Telecom (UTL, LAP Green), MTN Uganda, UMEME, SEACOM, Infocom (Altech, Liquid Telecom), Internet Solutions, MTN Uganda (Telia), Bharti Airtel (Zain, Celtel), Uganda Telecom (UTL, LAP Green, Telecel, Orascom, Deutsche Telekom), Warid Telecom (Essar), Orange Uganda (HiTS Telecom), i-Tel, Simba Telecoms, Standard Chartered Bank, Monitise, American Tower Corporation (ATC), Eaton Towers, Smile Telecom, Smart Telecom, Sure Telecom, K2 Telecom, Africell (Lintel), UTL Online (Uganda Telecom), Infocom (Altech), Africa Online, Spacenet, MTN, Wateen Telecoms (Warid), Smile Telecom, Foris Telecom, Talk Telecom, Mo Telecom, Goal Technology Solutions (GTS), UMEME, WBS Television, NTV Uganda, MultiChoice

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