Uganda Telecoms Market Report

Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 17 Dec 2023 Update History

Report Status: Current

Report Pages: 187

MTN and Airtel expand 5G after securing spectrum

Uganda’s telecom sector is among the more competitive 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 Lyca Mobile Uganda and Airtel Uganda also now hold National Telecommunications Operator licences. Lyca Mobile in late 2023 sought an m-money licence to expand its service offerings, which are focused on mobile data rather than voice.

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 followed suit in August 2023, though the response was poor, with only 54.5% of the shares sold.

Heightened competitive pressures prompted the exit of Africell in 2021, and caused the financially strained Smile Telecom to have its services suspended from the tower network operated by ATC.

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. While there is sufficient capacity within the LTE networks to match data demand, the regulator in mid-2023 auctioned spectrum in a range of bands for 5G use. MTN and Airtel both secured spectrum, and immediately afterwards launched 5G services.

Key developments

  • Airtel Uganda sees only 54.5% of shares offered at its November 2023 IPO sold.
  • Uganda looks to Chinese vendors to work on its digital transformation program.
  • Uganda launches its first satellite, PearlAfricaSat-1.
  • Lyca Mobile Uganda to apply for an m-money licence.
  • MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda secure spectrum in several bands at auction in July 2023 and immediately launch 5G services.
  • Government passes several amendments to telecoms tax regime in 2023 legislation.
  • Universal access fund completes second stage of providing internet-connected solar-powered tablets to rural communities.
  • OneWeb partners with Airtel Africa to provide LEO satellite broadband connectivity in Uganda.
  • Report update includes the regulator's market data to March 2023, operator data to Q3 2023, updated Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report

Uganda Telecom (UTel), MTN Uganda, UMEME, SEACOM, Infocom (Altech, Liquid Telecom), Internet Solutions, MTN Uganda (Telia), Bharti Airtel Uganda (Zain, Celtel), 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), 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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