Information and Communication and Technology (ICT) Sector of Uganda
Uganda’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is one of the most vibrant and fastest growing sectors since its liberalization in 2010. The sector has continued to grow for the last eight years mainly driven by demand for both mobile voice and mobile internet services. Government recognizes Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as being critical for Uganda’s socio-economic transformation as enshrined in NDPII. Government focus on ICT is consistent with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which identifies the spread of information and communication technology (ICTs) and global interconnectedness as being key in accelerating human progress.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
ICT consists of hardware, software, networks, and media for collection, storage, processing, transmission, and presentation of information (voice, data, text, images).
The sector performance highlights are as follows;
- The mobile money sector is dominated by two telecoms, MTN Uganda and Airtel, who together account for 99% of mobile money agent market presence, according to a recent report. The market leader is MTN with 57%, followed by Airtel with 42%. Other telecoms account for the remaining 1%;
- According to the background to the Budget Speech FY 2017/18, the information and communication sector grew by 12.2% in FY 2016/17 compared to 14.1% in FY 2015/16;
- The mobile phones customer base stands at over 20 million out of the total population of 37 million. MTN has over 10.5 million customers with Airtel share standing at 8 million and Orange at about 900,000. The internet users are estimated at over 13 million;
- The mobile money service had by March 2017 grown to register transaction values of Shs 4,969.2 billion across 7 players registering annual growth rate of 47.82 per cent in transaction volume compared to 35.51 percent in 2016. The mobile money users stand at over 20 million.
Critical Success factors for ICT sector
The following factors helped in the rapid growth of the ICT sector in Uganda;
- Good legal and regulatory framework
- Good policies that included those relating to privatisation and liberalisation.
Importance of ICT sector in Uganda
- The sector employs over 1 million people.
- ICT plays a major role in all aspects of national life: economic life, politics as well as social and cultural development.
Network Readiness Index
In the Global Information Report 2016 Uganda was ranked number 121 out of 139 countries that participated with a score value of 3.1 out of the maximum of 6.0. Network Readiness Index (NRI) measures the propensity for countries to exploit the opportunities offered by information and communications technology (ICT). NRI is a composite of three components namely the environment for ICT offered by a given country, the readiness of the country’s key stakeholders to use ICT and the usage of ICT among these stakeholders. Judging from the score Uganda is not ready to exploit opportunities arising out of the ICT sector.
In FY 2018/19 government has allocated Shs 149 billion to the ICT sector which is slightly bigger than the previous financial year’s allocation of Shs106 billion. The Government has prioritised ICT as a key enabler of socio-economic transformation and development programmes. The ICT sector investment Plan (SIP) 2015/2016-2019-2020) has identified ICT infrastructure as a foundational support for ICT Development and Research, Innovation and Development.
SIP will achieve the following by 2020;
- Increased access and usage of ICT equipment and devices;
- Achieve an average ICT GDP growth annually of 20%;
- Improved access to high-speed broadband services to facilitate communications, economic activities and service delivery, and;
- Overall improvement of Uganda’s ranking on global ICT indices.
In FY 2017/18, and in the medium term, Government will focus on expanding the existing interventions that will include:
- Investment in expansion of ICT infrastructure network;
- Investment in research, innovation and promote the use of e-business;
- Investment in human capital development;
- Implementation of policy reforms to ensure increased local participation, and ownership of ICT infrastructure and businesses and
- Provision of an enabling environment to attract more investments in the ICT
- In order to accrue benefits from ICT, Government has prioritized extending the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) together with construction of ICT incubation hubs/Centers and ICT parks across the country. The goal is to complete the NBI as well as the last mile connections so as to receive high speed internet bandwidth and reduce internet costs (from USD 300per Mbps per month in 2016 to USD 150 by 2020).
- Government also launched the Free Wi-Fi in Kampala City and Entebbe following a declaration by UN of Internet being a human right. Government through (NITA-Uganda) on August 18th, 2016 decided to avail all citizens within the borders of Kampala and Entebbe with free Wi-Fi dubbed “MyUG”. This started effective October, 2016 and runs every day from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
- The Government is developing a Cyber City Strategy that focuses on enabling the country to have a secure online environment which is adequately risked-proofed from cyber threats.
- The Government’s directive regarding registration of all SIM cards by August 2017 aimed at curbing crime in the country is in progress.
Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
The Ministry of ICT is responsible for policy, regulation, standards, guidelines and quality assurance in regard to Information Management System ( IIMS) in Ministries , Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and provide technical support, supervision and guidance, as well as undertake monitoring and evaluation.
National ICT Policy
In 1996, Government adopted the telecommunications policy which led to the liberalization of the sector, creation of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) as the regulator and privatization of the Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (UPTC). More reforms that opened sector up to full liberalization. In order to address the new trends in ICT a National ICT Policy Framework to guide the development of the ICT sector in Uganda was approved in 2003.
Electronic media Act (Government of Uganda 1996)
An Act that provides for the setting up of a broadcasting council to license and regulate radio and television stations, to provide for the licensing of television sets, to amend and consolidate the law relating to electronic media and to provide for other related matters and Commenced on 21 June, 1996.
Uganda Communications Act
Uganda Communications Act Cap 106 Laws of Uganda has the main objective of regulating the sector with the aim of increasing the availability of the services in the sector to the population and at the same time encouraging private sector investment. Uganda Communication Commission is the body responsible for regulating the sector. ICT legal and regulatory framework is revolving around Telecommunications, Postal and Broadcasting services.
Access to Information Act, 2005
An Act to provide for the right of access to information pursuant to article 41 of the Constitution; to prescribe the classes of information referred to in that article; the procedure for obtaining access to that information, and for related matters.
Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, 2006
An Act to repeal and replace the Copyright Act and to provide for the protection of literary, scientific and artistic intellectual works and their neighbouring rights and to provide for other related matters.
The key players June 2018 include the following;
- MTN Uganda.
- Airtel Uganda.
- Uganda Telecom.
- Africell Uganda
- Smile Telecom.
- K2 Telecom.
- Smart Telecom.
The number of licensed TV stations over 160 and there are over 200 licensed FM radio stations.
Key Strength in ICT
- Geographical location enhances supply to regional markets in East and Central Africa
- Time zone favors business process outsourcing
- Latent market potential, over 52 % of Uganda has access to phones and much less percentage has radio and computers
- Liberalized and well regulated ICT market
- Low costs of operational licenses
- High production rates of skilled labour force with good training background
- Fluent English speaking population
- Good quality infrastructure supportive of future investments
- Young population stable for ICT
Challenges facing ICT sector
The government has identified the following as the key challenges facing the sector;
- Inadequate funding to the sector;
- Inadequate ICT infrastructure;
- High-cost of ICT services relative to other countries in the region;
- Limited local and relevant content;
- Inadequate human resources;
- Low levels of ICT awareness,
- Low application of ICT in business, and;
- Inadequate ICT-related research, innovation and development.
The information under the sector is organized as follows;