Mobile phone users grow to 23.2 million

Wednesday March 06 2019
tech001 pix

Part of life. Mobile phone penetration, which continues to register growth has seen many Ugandans make phones a part of their lives. PHOTO BY EDGAR R BATTE

Kampala. Mobile telephone subscribers have grown to 23.2 million, according to figures obtained from Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).
The subscribers, according to the UCC report conducted between June and September 2018, grew from 21.6 million with about 1.6 million subscribers recorded in the period.
“A total of 1.6 million new Simcards were registered in the period July to September 2018,” the report reads in part, attributing the 7 per cent growth to an increase in mobile business and quality of customer acquisition by telecoms.
However, the report indicates a 61 per cent drop in fixed line subscription from 252,165 to 98,498 subscribers in the period under review.

The telecoms sector is dominated by MTN and Airtel with the two sharing 90 per cent of the market share.
MTN, according to data from UCC, holds 46 per cent of the market share compared to Airtel’s 44 per cent.
Africell hold 9.5 per cent while Utl holds 0.6 per cent and 0.3 per cent Smile Telecom.

The mixed trends, according to Mr Micheal Niyitegeka, an ICT expert and the Africa country manager for Uganda International Computer Drivers Licence, could be explained by the eruption of a tech-savvy youthful population with a high appetite for mobility and affordability.
However, he said, the growth in Simcard subscription does not necessarily translate into an increase in individual subscribers, arguing that majority Ugandans have one or more Simcards.
“Many of us have more than one Simcards because the quality of service in many cases is a challenge. [Therefore] based on your location, you have to have different Simcards that you keep switching depending on the quality of service,” he said.

The telecommunications sector has in the last 10 years experienced rapid growth, assisted by a number of aspects including voice and data communication and mobile money transfer service.
Uganda currently has one of the highest rates of mobile phone penetration standing at 56 per cent, according to data from UCC.
Mr Niyitegeka said the mobile phone segment has over the years outgrown the fixed lines segment, explaining that “we have reached a point where it does not make sense to have a fixed line in the office”.
“Those whose primary business is fixed lines have to rethink their business model,” he said, arguing there is need for convergence and new innovations to survive in the current telecommunications market.

Internet growth
The UCC report also recorded growth in number of mobile Internet subscribers from 9.8 million to 13.5 million, representing a 38 per cent growth for the period between June and September 2018. The increase puts Internet penetration at 38 per cent. Ms Sumin Namaganda, the Airtel public relations manager, said Internet continues to be a key revenue stream driven by improved quality and affordability.
“The advent of Internet has presented different opportunities for Ugandans in the fields of entertainment, entrepreneurship and tourism,” she said.

Mobile phones factor


In the mobile money sector, according to the report, there was marked growth driven by the 1.6 million new Simcards that were registered in the period.
However, the report notes, there was dip in the service transactions. Currently, Uganda has 22 million mobile money subscribers.
The value of mobile money transactions declined by 24 per cent from Shs19 trillion in June 2018 to Shs14 trillion in September 2018, partly because of the introduction of mobile money tax.
The 1 per cent mobile money tax, which was introduced in July 2018, was reviewed to 0.5 per in November.