Africell says goodbye to Uganda

Africell says goodbye to Uganda

Uganda’s number three operator, Africell, is to leave the country after seven years.

In a letter circulated to its employees the company says it will cease operations on 7 October, although staff employment will end on 30 November. The letter to its staff says that Africell will no longer accept new customers. The remaining period will allow existing customers to migrate to other networks.

A statement by the company blames stiff competition – and it does seem that Africell hasn’t found it easy competing with the local units of MTN and Bharti Airtel.

MTN Uganda has more than ten million subscribers. Africell has about 2.3 million subscribers in Uganda, according to the firm's website.

UK-based Africell Group entered the Ugandan market in 2014 by acquiring Orange Uganda. It also has operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia and Sierra Leone, and is planning to launch operations in Angola by the end of this year.

Ugandan press reports say it has been mostly known for its affordable internet service packages and relative network stability. In fact the Uganda Communications Commission last year rated Africell top performer in terms of service delivery.

However, Ugandan reports also say that, in 2019, the company was reported to be in debt to the tune of 250 billion shillings (about $70.7 million), a debt that may partly have been inherited from Orange. In the same year it made a loss of more than 1.5 trillion shillings (about $424 million). Ziad Daoud was named Chief Executive in 2019 in efforts to stabilize the company. He resigned in March 2021 and was replaced by Houssam Jaber.

In August this year, another Ugandan operator, Smart Telecom, announced it was leaving Uganda after failing to realize its business objectives.

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