Communications Sector Registers Growth

Uganda’s communications sector is in buoyant growth, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) report says.

“The December 2022 to March 2023 report, telephone subscriptions increased by 1.08 million mobile subscriptions to 34.3 million, a three per cent increase to the previous quarter. Fixed lines were 0.116 million subscriptions,” reads the report.

 There was a 12 per cent subscription increase at the end of March 2023, compared to the same period ending December 2022, adding two million fixed and mobile telephone subscriptions to the 2022 figure.

The sector grew by 1.2 million internet subscriptions to 27 million, attributed to increased internet access through mobile handsets and other data devices.

It is due to the telecom industries aggressive Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) promotion packages and Internet of Things (IoT) devices like car tracking devices.

Mobile Money connections increased from 36.8 million to 37.3 million, more than 500,000 accounts.

The registered mobile money accounts growth, half the new mobile lines number, is attributed to mobile money activities’ reduction after the preceding quarter’s festive seasons.

Mobile money active accounts in the 90 days grew from 25.2 million in the previous quarter to 26 million in March 2023. The agent footprint was, however, consistently 472,000 agents across the country, which is 55 active wallets per agent. In year-on-year terms, the industry increased by 4 million registered mobile money accounts, a 12 per cent growth since March 2022.

Further, 90-day active new accounts demonstrated notable growth, with 2.4 million accounts addition, a ten per cent increase.

Unlike in March 2021, the number of devices accessing Ugandan networks increased by four million devices, from 35.1 million to 39.1 million at the end of March 2022.

The tax contributions amounted to Shs430.9 billion; 47 per cent of the tax contribution accrued from local excise duty and Value Added Tax at 30 per cent. The balance of 23 per cent accrued from various revenue lines, such as VAT on imported services.

The average monthly Short Messages Services (SMS) usage dropped from 25 to 40, although data rose from 1.6 to 1.7 gigger bites.

Domestic Voice Traffic grew by 3 per cent, a total of 17.6 billion minutes in domestic talk time.

The sector recorded revenues of Shs1.34 trillion, with a net addition of Shs58.4 billion, compared to Shs1.30 trillion in March 2022. It combined voice, data, infrastructure lease and other communication services earnings, excluding the mobile money revenues.

During the same quarter, Uganda Post Limited (UPL) forged a partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Eurogiro to introduce “PostalPay.”

It is a user-friendly app facilitating money transfers from Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden to Uganda.

Recipients using PostalPay can collect their cash from any Post Bank branch or a designated Posta Uganda location.

Alternatively, Post Bank Uganda accounts at any of its service network’s 25 Bank of Uganda licensed stations receive the money deposit.

A combination of satellite, cable and digital terrestrial networks serve the Uganda market, with seven licensed content aggregators.

Active Pay TV subscriptions’ active subscribers rose to 2.4 million from 2.3 million in December 2022 due to the sustained adoption of various pay-TV packages during the December period and the football season.

Seven content aggregators offer a variety of channels, of which DSTv posted 147 and StarTimes 133.

UCC, through Uganda Communications Universal Services Access Fund has implemented digital skilling initiatives in selected districts, targeting women and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The initiative followed baseline studies in 2019 and a selection of 1,300 for training from Iganga, Tororo, Kanungu, and Moroto of the 1,450 interested individuals.

They are carpenters, motor vehicle mechanics, metal fabricators, saloon operators, tailors and market vendors.

Three thousand women from the Central, Eastern, Northern, and West Nile regions received digital skills in smartphone functionality, internet use and other basic ICT skills.

By Stephen Wandera Ouma