Low smartphone uptake slowing internet usage 

Friday September 17 2021
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Smartphones piled together. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

By Paul Murungi

The low penetration of smartphones is slowing down usage of the internet, according to Uganda Communications Commission.  

According to UCC, whereas handheld smartphones have increased from 7.9 million to 9.7 million in the last six months, the growth has been slow compared to basic and feature phones, which account for more than 70 per cent of handled phones.    

UCC noted that year-on-year, active devices grew to 32 million between December and June, with basic phones standing at five million while feature phones stood at 18 million.

This, UCC said, indicates that less than 10 million handheld devices are connected on the internet, which has slowed down penetration. 

Mobile broadband penetration has been growing overtime on the account of an increase in smartphone penetration. 
Majority of Ugandans access the internet through mobile phones, supported by heavy investment in internet infrastructure. 

Mr Ibrahim Bossa, the UCC head of public and international relations, said there has been slow adoption to smartphones, partly because of affordability evns as telecoms and phone venders put in place measures to improve access and uptake. 

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“A smartphone is still a costly item when it comes to an average Ugandan,” Mr Bossa said, noting that on average, a smartphone costs about Shs120,000. 
Internet usage has also been associated with high costs that are driven by data pricing and related taxes. 

This, Mr Bossa said, prohibits access to a number of Ugandans. 
Kenya and Tanzania have relatively cheaper data compared to Uganda, which Mr Bossa attributes to limited access to the sea cable. 

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