Uganda: Mara Group Set to invest in Local Telecom Industry

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

One of Uganda's home-grown business groups with a global presence is seeking access to venture into the competitive local telecommunications industry.

The Mara Group which is behind the Kensington Luxury houses in Kampala, has applied for a licence to provide telecommunication services (voice and data), to Ugandans as Mara Telecoms Uganda Limited.

According to a notice published in the local press on January 7, by the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC), the Mara Group, has applied for a telecommunication license to operate in Uganda. The commission has invited the public to comment on the Mara application for the next two weeks. "UCC shall grant a licence to the applicants," if, after the expiry of the period no comments have been made, the notice says.

UCC which is the regulatory body of the communications industry usually seeks the opinions of people to either support or oppose the applications, with reasons to find out more information about the applicants.

The Mara Group founded by British-born Ashish Thakkar, 29, the Managing Director, is a multi sector business including Information technology, real estate, financial services, hospitality, energy, packaging, retail and media, spanning four continents.

In Uganda, the Group is behind business brands like Riley Media, Riley Packaging and Raps Uganda. On the international scene, it has built the landmark 36 floor Kensington Krystal in Dubai and owns other businesses in South Africa, Hong Kong, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) and the United Kingdom.

Under the Mara Telecoms brand, the group, which is a spin off of local technology firm Raps Uganda Limited, has intentions to become a niche operator in the African market..., to provide fresh service to a population that desires freshness and thrives on image," says information on the firms website. The Group with global telecom partners is set to make its entry into the first growing telecom African market this year. Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are the firm's initial focus. An official at Mara Telecom in Uganda who requested not to be named said; "now is not the right time" to comment on the company's business interests. "You will be the first to know at the right time," the source said.

Uganda already has eight operational telecommunication service providers including, MTN Uganda, Warid Telecom, Orange, Zain Uganda, Uganda Telecom, Smile, TMP, and I-Telecom. However there are 60 licensed telecommunication operators with 33 of them owning the public service provider licence which the Mara Telecom is eyeing. Uganda now has over 10 million mobile and fixed mobile phone users, according to the UCC records.

The Monitor