Mobile subscriptions in Uganda stood at 26.7 million in December 2019, a 3% jump from 25.7 million subscriptions four months earlier, the latest market performance report released by Uganda Communications Commission indicates.
This growth translates into a penetration of 66 telephone lines per 100 as of December 2019, up from 63.7 lines per 100 at the end of September 2019, the report adds. That means there were 66 phone subscriptions registered for every 100 people.
The quarterly report, which is based on licensees’ submissions, reveals a total of 1.9 million additions to the telephone network over the last four quarters. Ninety-seven per cent (97%) of the total subscriptions are on mobile, while 3% are fixed lines.
On internet subscription, the report shows impressive growth, from 15.4 million in October 2019 to 16.9 million at the end of December 2019.
“The growth in internet subscriptions may be due to increasing mobile data subscriptions, which are largely driven by growth in feature and smart handset penetration,” the report says.
Indeed the number of active smartphones on the network had risen to 6.6 million by the end of December 2019, while feature phones with basic data capabilities totalled 17.2 million.
The robust growth in cellular subscriptions, the report indicates, is driven by growing investment in both core and radio network coverage.
“By December 2019, 2G sites stood at 4,810, 3G sites stood at 4,187, and 4G sites stood at 2,593. These were served by a network of 19,609km of terrestrial backhaul fibre,” the report says.
Related to that, the report highlights ATC’s acquisition of Eaton Holdings Ltd Uganda, a transaction that effectively brought together the operations of both companies in Uganda.
Mobile financial services continued to experience steady growth, according to the report, with the quarter ending December 2019 realising 700,000 new registered mobile money accounts.
“Net additions in registered mobile money accounts between December 2018 and December 2019 stood at 2.6 million new accounts,” the report says. “The quarter ended with 27.1 million registered mobile money accounts, up from 26.4 million in September 2019.”
However, active mobile money accounts stood at 16.6 million accounts in December 2019, up from 15.6 million in September 2019, representing 6% quarter on quarter growth.
Active mobile money subscriptions refer to accounts that have conducted at least one billable financial service in three months, in this case, October – December 2019.
During the period under review, mobile money agents reduced from 225,879 in September to 219,577 agents as at the end of December 2019. The contraction in the mobile money agent network, the report says, could be attributed to the following factors:
- Increased competition from agency banking
- Increased bank to wallet and wallet to bank transfers
- Multi-network agency models that arose following barring of exclusive mobile money dealership obligations
- Increased number of merchants accepting payments which has kept money in the ecosystem
Highlighting growth in usage of Over The Top (OTT) services (such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter), the report reveals that at least 10.16 million cellular users accessed OTT services at least once during the month of December 2019, compared to 9.39 million at the end of October 2019.
On the whole, monthly telecom industry revenues grew by 18%, from 265 billion in September 2019 to 313 billion in December 2019.
“While most of the revenue growth may be due to the new activity on mobile money and new subscriptions on cellular services, some of the growth in revenues may be attributed to the seasonal demand associated with the December holidays,” the report pointed out.
In terms of distribution, voice and SMS services accounted for Shs 157 billion, while data and mobile money posted revenues of Shs 63 and Shs 70 billion respectively in the month of December 2019.
As for courier services, the report notes that five new courier licenses were issued during the same period, growing the number of courier service providers from 23 in September to 28 at the end of December 2019.