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Uganda: Uganda Communication Profile

2015/01/27

 

Information and Communication and Technology (ICT) Sector of Uganda

Uganda’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is one of the most vibrant and fastest growing sectors since its liberalization in 2010. The sector is growing steadily and it contributed 2.5% to GDP in 2011 and in 2012 the sector contributed 6.2% to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.

Regulatory Framework

Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
The Ministry of ICT is responsible for policy, regulation, standards, guidelines and quality assurance in regard to Infomation Management System ( IIMS) in Ministries , Departments and Agencies (MDAs)  and provide technical support, supervision and guidance, as well as undertake monitoring and evaluation.

Functions of the ministry

  • Providing strategic and technical leadership, overall coordination.
  • To support and advocacy on all matters of policy, laws, regulations and strategy for the ICT sector.
  • Ensures sustainable, efficient and effective development, harnessing and utilization of ICT in all spheres of life to enable the country achieve its national development goals.

National ICT Policy

National ICT Policy Development process in Uganda was initiated in 1998 by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST). In May 2002, the UNCST submitted a draft National ICT Policy Framework to Cabinet. The ICT policy resonsible for the sector development  was approved by Cabinet  in December 2003.

Electronic media Act (Government of Uganda 1996)
An Act that  provides for the setting up of a broadcasting council to license and regulate radio and television stations, to provide for the licensing of television sets, to amend and consolidate the law relating to electronic media and to provide for other related matters and Commenced on 21 June, 1996.

Uganda Communications Act
The main objective of the Act was to regulate the sector with the aim of increasing the availability of the services in the sector to the population and at the same time to encourage private sector investment.

Access to Information Act, 2005
An Act to provide for the right of access to information pursuant to article 41 of the Constitution; to prescribe the classes of information referred to in that article; the procedure for obtaining access to that information, and for related matters.

Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act, 2006
An Act to repeal and replace the Copyright Act and to provide for the protection of literary, scientific and artistic intellectual works and their neighboring rights and to provide for other related matters.

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)
The Uganda Communications Commission was formed in 1997 after the Uganda Communications Act had been passed. The role of Uganda Communication Commission is to enhance national coverage of communications services and products, with emphasis on new varieties that are more cost effective and encourage the participation of private investors in the development of the telecommunications sector, thus enabling competition and thus better services to the population.

UCC oversees the regulatory environment and has put in the following regulations;

  • Radio Communications Regulations
  • Equipment Type Approval Regulations
  • Postal Regulations
  • Practice and Procedure Regulations
  • Tariff and Accounting Regulations
  • Fair Competition Regulations
  • Licensing Regulations
  • Universal Service Regulations
  • Interconnection Regulations

National Information and Communication Authority Uganda (NITA-U)
NITA-U is responsible for integration and coordination of the different ICT activities in the public and private sectors, initiation and development of ICT Policy advice and strategy.

Seventh network launches amidst consolidation in crowded mobile sector

The introduction of mobile telephony has revolutionised Uganda’s telecommunications industry, but with seven networks the market is overcrowded, which has led to a price war and consolidation among the operators. However, not long after the No. 2 in the market (Bharti Airtel) took over the No.4 (Warid Telecom), a new operator (Smart Telecom) launched in March 2014. Two months later, the new No. 4 (Orange) decided to exit the market and sold to Lebanon-based Africell.

The price war has accelerated subscriber growth but also reduced the average revenue per user (ARPU) and quality of service (QoS). The network operators started raising their tariffs again and are trying to find ways of generating additional revenue streams. 3G and 4G mobile broadband services as well as mobile money transfer and m-banking services are at the forefront of this development in a country where less than 20% of the population currently has internet access or holds a traditional bank account.

Fixed-line and DSL penetration is low but has seen a renaissance on the back of wireless local loop (WLL) rollouts, prepaid services and an increasing demand for broadband access. Fixed GSM and WiMAX in combination with VoIP now make up more than half of the fixed telephony market.

Being landlocked, the country depended entirely on satellites for its international connectivity until 2009 when several international submarine fibre optic cables landed on the African east coast. Uganda is now connected via a national fibre backbone extending to its borders with neighbouring coastal countries. By 2013, prices for international bandwidth had fallen to a fraction of their original cost, but retail pricing of broadband services is still relatively expensive, especially when considering purchasing power parity. However, wireless and mobile technologies such as WiMAX, EV-DO, HSPA and LTE are now putting the internet within reach of a much wider part of the population than traditional fixed-line DSL services have in the past. These improvements in infrastructure are revolutionising the market and enabling converged voice, data and digital media services.

At around 50%, total teledensity is still below the African average. A simplified and converged licensing regime has significantly reduced barriers to market entry and increased competition. With annual GDP growth forecast to remain stable at around 7% p.a., growth prospects for Uganda’s telecoms sector are excellent.

Estimated market penetration rates in Uganda’s telecoms sector –

Market

Penetration rate

Mobile

51%

Fixed

0,4%

Internet

22%

  • To formulate and implement IT related policies in line with the NITA-U Act.
  • To provide specific IT services to government and other Agencies according to priorities identified within the various national development programmes.
  • To develop and monitor the implementation of systems and standards for e-Governance in line with the various national development programmes.
  • To regulate, monitor and evaluate activities within the IT sub-sector according to the NITA-U Act.
  • To carry out and fund research and development for the sector according to priorities identified within the various national development programmes.
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Internet country code: 

.ug

Communications note: