The Ugandan government gave full power to the country’s telecoms regulator, the Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC), to liberalize the infrastructure sector in October 2006.
Earlier in the year, the Ministry published guidelines defining the opening up of services to full competition. This was a result of the end of the five-year exclusivity period of the National Telecom Operators (NTO)—MTN Uganda and Uganda Telecom, and Cellular Telecom Operator (CTO)—Celtel Uganda.
With this new market structure, the Ugandan telecoms is set to become even more attractive as infrastructure rollout increases, new services and applications are deployed, and customers’ needs are meet in the greater context of convergence. In our view, despite current and upcoming challenges, Uganda is well positioned to become a very competitive and vibrant telecoms market and this can already be seen in the moves of South Africa’s giants MTN and Telkom SA which have either increased their stakes in the country or are seeking to make a push into Uganda.
Redefining the Market Structure
Uganda is among the first African markets to have introduced competition in the fixed and mobile markets. In 2005, the Ugandan government outlined a new strategy to see to the full liberalization of the Ugandan telecommunications market.
A number of infrastructure-based challenges (limited capacity and coverage, an access network predominantly GSM-based, and the sole dependency on satellite for international access) have hampered the growth of the sector.
As a result, the Ugandan regulator UCC proposed an infrastructure licensing regime in 2H06, making the full liberalization of the Ugandan telecoms sector effective.