Uganda's Smart Telecom (Suretelecom Uganda Limited) announced its decision to end operations in the country on August 31, said local media.
According to Agence Ecofin, a statement said it has been experiencing increased occupational challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Smart Telecom is advising all its customers to migrate to alternative service providers during the notice period, and all those with unutilised amounts beyond 31 August will be refunded.
The company saw its market share decline in 2019, during the onset of the global pandemic. Travel restrictions, which have led to increased competition in the telecoms market, have largely benefited large operators such as MTN, Airtel, Uganda Telecom. They had sufficient financial capacity to invest in strengthening and expanding their network to meet growing consumer demand across the country.
Smart Telecom, which is the brand name of Sure Telecom and is owned via an intermediary called Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) in Kenya.
According to the GSMA’s coverage maps, there are nine mobile operators in Uganda, from Africell and Airtel to Uganda Telecom Mobile and Vodafone. The map shows that Smart has 2G and 3G coverage around the Kampala area only, and not elsewhere in the country.
According to reports, the exit of Smart Telecom from Uganda will certainly reduce the list of players competing in this market, but will not reduce the strong competition that prevails there. It is highly likely that the departure of Smart Telecom will greatly benefit MTN and Airtel. The two telecom operators are currently the market leader and second, in terms of share, have greater network coverage and are more inclined to introduce new mobile technologies to the market.