Cost of devices, data impeding uptake of technology, says UCC

Ms Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, speaks during the Digital Impact Africa Awards in Kampala. Photo / Ismail Musa Ladu 

What you need to know:

  • According to Ms Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, the UCC executive director, the cost factor of digital devices continues to impede access to technology  

Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) has said it is engaging government on the possibility of exempting devices from some taxes that raises the cost of mobile phone acquisition.

Speaking at Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit, a forum where strategic trends and technologies that shape the future of digital, ICT and business are explored in Kampala, Ms Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, the UCC executive director, said the cost factor of digital devices continues to impede access to technology.  

“The cheapest smartphone goes for about Shs240,000. Now, the challenge we are dealing with is how to bring this price down so that everybody can have an internet-enabled device,” she said, noting that UCC was engaging stakeholders with the view of ensuring that Ugandans access digital devices at affordable rates.

Ms Sewankambo also indicated that the cost of internet continues to be high, highlighting the need to, as a country, engage stakeholders at various stages, including at international level, to grow subscriber numbers, which would eventually influence the cost downwards.

The cost of internet continues to be a challenge for technology driven products and services even as there has been heightened uptake of digital driven services in the last two years due to Covid-19 related disruptions.  

However, Ms Sewankambo said others challenges such as absence of power in some areas of Uganda, have been key in increasing the cost of internet, which calls for multi-sectoral engagements “to see how to bring down the cost of doing business”. 

Digital Impact Awards, organized by HiPipo, seek to promote adaptability of technology in Africa through collaboration with governments, technology stakeholders and industry players to bring down the cost of data and devices. 

Ms Damali Ssali, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda chief programmes and projects officer, said financial institutions must use the current digital foot prints such as national identification number and tax identification number to reduce the risk profile of people seeking credit. 

“So naturally, if a bank is able to track me, it should lower my risk profile. You should also lower the time it takes for a bank to know me. That means we can access financing with low risk if technology is put to good use in use. 

Financial institutions continue to risk a number of people in the private sector as high risk, which impedes them from accessing credit. 

Therefore, Ms Ssali said, there is need to lower the cost of credit due to presence of a number of identification models.

MTN Uganda and MTN MoMo were the biggest winners at the 2022 Digital Impact Awards Africa, with the two sister companies bagging the biggest accolade of the night; the Digital Brand of the Year – Diamond Accolade. 

Centenary Bank came second, taking home the Gold prize.

Both the Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit and the Digital Impact Awards Africa were presented by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, PortX (formerly ModusBox), and Crosslake Technologies with support from the Gates Foundation. 

2022 Digital Impact Awards Africa Winner

  • Financial Inclusion Excellence

Letshego Digital Mall - Gold

MTN MoMo Advance - Diamond

  • Digital Banking Excellence

 Stanbic Bank - Gold

Standard Chartered Bank - Diamond

  • Banking Innovation Excellence

CenteMobile Loans| Centenary Bank - Diamond

Craft Silicon | Mobile Banking Solution – ELMA - Gold

  • Community/MFI Banking Innovation Excellence

Pride Microfinance Limited - Gold

Centenary Bank -Diamond

  • Fintech Innovation Excellence

Kawu Smart Card by Kawu Uganda - Diamond

Safecar by SafeBoda - Gold

  • Financial Services Digital Excellence

Standard Chartered Bank - Diamond

Comviva and Airtel Mobile Commerce Uganda Limited (AMCUL) - Silver

MTN MoMo - Gold

  • Consumer Goods Digital Excellence

Jude Color Solutions - Gold

Jumia Uganda - Diamond

  • Utilities and Government Services Digital Excellence

NSSF - Gold

NWSC - Diamond

  • Technology Services Digital Excellence

Airtel Uganda & Airtel Mobile Commerce - Gold

MTN Uganda & MTN MoMo - Diamond

  • Digital Campaign Excellence

Stanbic National Schools Championship - Diamond

NSSF Hi-Innovator - Gold

  • Digital Brand of the Year

​​​​​​​Centenary Bank - Gold

MTN Uganda & MTN MoMo - Diamond