Low penetration points to high growth in Uganda

Uganda’s mobile sector is predicted to grow through to the end of 2015, while broadband subscriber numbers are expected to rise significantly between 2013 and 2015, according to BMI.

It is estimated that, by the end of 2010, Uganda's mobile customer base had risen to 13.773mn. This figure was up by 28.2% from 10.747mn at the end of 2009 - meaning that Uganda had a mobile penetration rate of 40.8% at the end of 2010. Although Uganda has one of the lowest rates of mobile penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa, this indicates high growth potential. The country has a competitive mobile market, with five network operators and the presence of several strategic investors. The operators are currently involved in expanding their networks into rural parts of the country.

Examined as a market average, the mobile ARPU rate for Uganda fell by 28.3% in 2010 to reach UGX7,018 (US$2.99). Uganda's blended ARPU rates are likely to decline gradually, with the rate of decline diminishing as operators establish more stable sources of income from the deployment of data services.

Recent developments of note in Uganda's telecoms sector include the news in March 2011 that Uganda's government planned to seize control of Libya's controlling stake in fixed-line incumbent operator UTL as part of a move to comply with UN sanctions freezing Libyan government assets abroad. Specifically, the government indicated that a new interim board would be appointed, as well as new management. UTL is one of the companies connected to the Libyan leader whose assets have been frozen internationally in accordance with the UN resolution 1973. However, in April 2011, Ugandan news agencies were reporting that the government had failed to take over management of UTL as it had earlier proclaimed; this would mean the company effectively remains in the hands of the embattled Libyan government of Muammar al- Qadhafi.

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