Telecom subscriber base in the country declined by 2.9 per cent last year as the SIM-card registration exercise affected growth, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2013 statistical Abstract shows.
The abstract released last week indicates that the overall subscriptions fell from 17.161 million in 2011 to 16.671 million subscribers in 2012, with fixed lines suffering the biggest dip of 32.2 per cent compared to a 2 per cent decline in cellular lines.
According to the report, the national telephone penetration also declined to 48.8 lines per 100 people from 52.1 the previous year, representing a total of 490,498 subscriber loss. Although no specific player’s data was given, the MTN chief executive officer, Mr Mazen Mroue, said while releasing the telecom’s 2012 annual financial results early this year that MTN posted marginal growth of 1 per cent in its subscriber numbers last year. He attributed the slower growth rate when compared to the previous years to the sim card registration exercise which he said affected growth across the entire industry especially in the half of 2012.
The report, however, shows that the industry posted growth in the volume of talk time traffic, increasing by 7.4 per cent from 13,028 million minutes in 2011, to 13,997 million minutes last year, with on-net traffic growing by 11.8 per cent from 10,285 million to 11,494 million minutes. This was attributed to the discounted on-net promotional offers and international rate revisions coupled with competitive retail tariffs. Off net traffic and outgoing international traffic declined by 7.1 per cent and 15.5 per cent, respectively.
Internet subscribers up
The decline in subscriber numbers was, however, compensated by massive growth in internet subscriber numbers, which more than doubled from 3.2 per cent to 8.2 per cent, with mobile internet users estimated to have reached 2.69 million while fixed internet subscriber numbers were estimated at 96,000.
Growth in Internet users was attributed to an increase in mobile internet subscription, driven by the continuous network upgrade and expansion by service providers that allowed for faster broadband connection speeds.