Lycamobile, which describes itself as the world’s largest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), has been awarded a National Telecommunications Operator (NTO) licence in Uganda. It now becomes Uganda’s fourth national operator alongside Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL), MTN and Airtel.
According to TeleGeography's CommsUpdate, UK-based Lycamobile Group entered the Ugandan market in January 2020 when it acquired fixed-wireless operator Tangerine. It went on to launch commercial services in April that year using Tangerine’s existing concession. This development expanded Lycamobile’s global network reach to 24 countries worldwide.
Lycamobile says that Uganda is one of the biggest destinations for telecoms business in Africa, characterised by discerning high-utility consumers. It has approximately 25 million mobile phone users and a nationwide mobile penetration rate of 71 percent, with Kampala alone accounting for over 50 percent.
At the time of its entry into the market, Lycamobile said it had established countrywide infrastructure, meaning Ugandans all across the country would have the chance to connect with friends and family through the company’s low-cost voice and data services.
Now that Lycamobile is an NTO licensee rather than an MVNO, it must deploy networks covering 90 percent of Uganda within five years. It must also commit to listing 20 percent of its shares on the local stock exchange.
Since being established as an MVNO initially developed for the expatriate communities in Europe in 2006, Lycamobile has grown to serve over 15 million customers globally, including in Europe, the USA, Australia and Asia. Africa – through South Africa and Uganda – is its newest market.