KAMPALA: 10-04-2022 – One million, three hundred thousand mobile handsets (1.3m) were added to the network in Uganda in the three months ending December 2021, a report compiled by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) indicates.

This growth in devices is the highest net quarterly addition reported in the last 12 months, according to the market performance report covering the period October – December 2021. The report further states that a total of 34 million devices were connected to the network by December 2021, including mobile handsets, laptops, and tablets.

During the quarter under review, basic handsets (make phone calls and send text messages) shrunk by more than 15,000, maintaining the downward trend witnessed in the preceding three quarters.

As basic mobile phones reduced from 3,949,752 in June 2021 to 3,532,047 in December 2021, feature phones increased from 18,524,536 to 20,519,692 during the same period. Like feature phones, smart phones increased too, from 9,729,758 in June 2021 to 10,098,098 in December 2021.

Device growth comparisons for Quarter 2, 3 and 4 – 2021

However, the report points out that the sustained withdrawal of basic handsets from the market has exacerbated waste disposal challenges.

“The withdrawal of basic handsets terminals from networks more than ever puts pressure on industry actors to mainstream e-waste management policies as the market migrates to new data centric technologies (3G, 4G and hopefully 5G),” the report states. Market research conducted by the Commission estimates that more than 4.5 tonnes of electronic waste are collected in Uganda annually.

The national e-waste management facility was commissioned in June 2021 while sector (telecom and broadcast) waste disposal guidelines are under development.

Globally, the market registered a 40 million growth in the number of smartphone shipments, translating into nearly 10% quarter-on-quarter growth.

Apple led in total shipments market share with 85 million phones sold, accounting for 23% of total phone sales during the period. It was followed by Samsung and Xiaomi that accounted for 19% and 12% share of global shipments respectively.

In terms of last mile voice connectivity, the quarter under review registered a 1.05 million jump in subscriptions, a 4% quarter-on- quarter growth and a 9% annual growth in the 12 months ending December 2021. Accordingly, both fixed and mobile subscriptions grew from 29.1 million in September to 30.2 million in December 2021, the report says.

Growth in fixed and mobile subscriptions

Regarding last mile broadband connections, subscriptions grew from 22 million in September to 23.9 in December 2021. This essentially means that one (1) in every two (2) Ugandans has broadband connection.

“The quarterly peak performance during 4Q21 (1.8 million new subscriptions) is attributed to traditional seasonal demand of the festive season characterised by heavy promotional campaigns for both gadgets and data offerings as well as continued loosening restrictions on cross boarder travel,” the report states.

Last mile broadband connections, subscriptions grew from 22 million in September to 23.9 in December 2021

On digital financial services, the report noted that the net addition of 0.9 million mobile money accounts recorded in the third quarter of 2021 couldn’t be replicated, with the fourth quarter posting only 500,000 new mobile money accounts.

Nevertheless, the new growth translates into a national mobile money account total of 32.7 million, up from 32.2 million accounts at the end of September 2021, which translates into a national mobile money penetration of 76 accounts per 100 persons in Uganda.

As for domestic voice traffic, the market yet again surpassed 16 billion in total offnet (across networks) and on-net (same network) domestic minutes. This is the highest recorded domestic traffic since the Commission started tracking domestic traffic indicators. The report observed that, consistent with previous usage patterns, domestic traffic remained largely 99% on-net, resulting from bundle pricing patterns and bonuses.

The market is dominated by 2 SIM consumers seeking to maximise the on-net voice call discounts and trying to avoid significant cross network mobile money charges. The new growth in traffic translates into an estimated 186 minutes of domestic calls per subscriber per month.

As for International Voice Traffic, for the first time in six (6) quarters, total international voice traffic (inbound and outbound) posted a net quarter-on-quarter growth. International incoming voice traffic grew from 78.9 million to 84.3 million minutes (7%), while international outgoing voice traffic grew from 38.3 million to 38.7 million minutes (1%). The 5% quarterly international traffic growth is attributed to traditional seasonal demand as well as the continued resumption of global and regional business following COVID-19 lockdowns.

Growth in international voice traffic

The quarter also witnessed the first telco listing on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE). The listing of 20% of the MTN Uganda portfolio was in fulfillment of the National Broadband Policy as well as licensing obligations. In a revolutionary move, the Initial Public Offer (IPO) was issued through mobile money channels, on top of the traditional intermediaries.

Building on its support for the film industry, the Commission established the Content Development Support Programme. The programme is one of the many industry initiatives aimed at supporting Ugandan production companies and individuals to develop audio-visual content that will in turn create job opportunities, generate revenue, promote skills development, and grow domestic audiences. In the inaugural financing round, approximately UGX 500 million was awarded to four projects following an independent and competitive beneficiary evaluation exercise.

In a related development, the report states that the 9th edition of the Uganda Film Festival (UFF) was launched in December 2021 with the opening of a call for film submissions. As has been the custom, the annual film awards gala to be held in the second quarter of 2022 is preceded by a 3-month long host of activities that include regional public exhibitions and screenings, media campaigns as well as industry capacity building.

In line with its digital inclusion agenda, the Commission through Uganda Communications Universal Services Access Fund (UCUSAF) launched a last-mile digital inclusion pilot premised on the provision of low-cost internet-connected solar-powered tablets to rural digitally excluded groups.

A special content package covering education, e-governance, and agriculture was provided to the beneficiaries in the areas of Looro in Amudat, Bubinge A and Musitu in Butaleja, Kyetume in Kayunga, Bukayo in Buvuma, Kanyashogyi in Kanungu and Mvule in Buliisa. The pilot project seeks to facilitate persons disadvantaged by poverty to participate in the economy and reap the benefits of access to communication.

At the global level, one of the highlights was social media giant Facebook rebranding to “Meta” in October 2021. The company announced that the rebranding was motivated by a new focus beyond messaging to an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) inspired new world.

Facebook denied claims by industry analysts that the rebrand was to repair brand damage caused by scandals such as the Cambridge Analytica election manipulation allegations of 2018 and the various antitrust investigations in the US and Europe.

The quarter also witnessed a 4-hour blackout on all Facebook platforms, including Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram, affecting more than 2 billion users worldwide. In a statement, Facebook blamed configuration changes at their data centres for the shutdown, reassuring its customer base that no personal data had been compromised during the outage.

Meanwhile, the Post and Courier segment continued to serve as a facilitator of last mile and point to point mail deliveries countrywide, with a host of operators remodeling their businesses towards e-commerce and digital addressing.

The sector has developed into evolving services and business models such as real time mail tracking systems and on-time door-to-door delivery, among others.

On the broadcasting side, by the end of December 2021, 40 Free to Air (FTA) stations were carried on the SIGNET platform. Pay TV, on the other hand, is served by a combination of Satellite, Cable, and Digital Terrestrial networks, with 7 licensed content aggregators. The quarter saw an increase in the total active subscribers from 1.51 million as of September 2021 to 1.65 million in December 2021.

See full report:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s