Understanding what is Happening in ICT in Uganda: A Supply- and Demand-side Analysis of the ICT Sector

Uganda’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector has continued to grow over the last few years, driven especially by demand for both mobile voice and mobile internet services, with the ICT sector contributing 6% of the national GDP in 2010. However, despite this growth, Uganda has the second poorest Networked Readiness Index (NRI) score among the countries surveyed by RIA in 2012, ahead of only Cameroon. The most significant recent development in Uganda’s ICT sector was the announcement in 2010 of the merger of the two regulators, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and the Broadcasting Council (BC), to form one regulatory body, still called the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). This merger was politically motivated and made via a Cabinet decision without Parliamentary input. Access to the internet has improved, with Uganda having an estimated 4.8 million internet users as of December 2011 – due to some extent to the lowering of prices since the landing of new fibre optic undersea cables on the east coast of Africa. Retail internet charges have not, however, dropped as much as would have been expected given the new fibre access because there is no effective backhaul competition. Individual internet access takes place predominantly via mobile telephony platforms, and access to computers remains very limited at only 4.8%.