Telecoms post highest subscriber growth ever

Monday August 24 2020

Mobile phone usage increased rapidly between December and March. PHOTO | FILE

Telecoms recorded one of the fastest growths in terms of subscriber numbers between December 2019 and March 2020.
According to the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) market performance report for the three months running December to March, released last week, subscriber numbers increased by 1.8 million from 26.7 million in December to 28.4 million in March, representing a 7 per cent growth.

Subscriber quarterly growth in the telecom sector has been averaging at about 4 per cent in the last five years.

However, during the three months to March, it rapidly grew to an impressive 7 per cent, pushing Uganda’s tele-density to 67 per cent from 66 per cent in December.

The report notes that the growth, which is unusual during such periods, is expected to improve further within the year, especially because of a shift in working conditions that are currently characterised by remote connections.

“The unusual performance [will improve] due to adoption of digital work methods [such as] work-from-home as well as the return of international residents [that have been forced back home] by Covid-19,” the report reads.

During the period, Internet subscription registered 1.2 million new connections, growing by 31 per cent.


Internet subscription has been growing rapidly in the last five years due to increase penetration in the smartphone usage and connections.

During the period under review, at least 99.6 per cent of subscribers accessed the Internet through mobile phones.

“Smartphones and feature phones with basic Internet access remain the driver of new mobile Internet subscriptions,” the report says, noting, there are at least 24.4 million feature and smartphones down from 23.8 million.

During the period to March, the report indicates that mobile financial services continued to experience steady growth, recording about 700,000 new subscribers from 24.7 million in December 2019. The growth means that Uganda currently has at least 25.4 million mobile money accounts.

However, about 4.4 million of 25.4 million did not make any transaction in the period to March 31.

Active mobile money wallets increased to 20 million users, which reflects a boom in e-commerce.

Mobile money agents grew to 204,141 during the period from 213,295.

OTT numbers

During the period, over the top (OTT) users grew slightly, increasing to 10.63 million users from 10.16 million in December. This indicates a nominal increase of 466,132 users or a growth of 5 per cent during the period.