Uganda: France Telecom Acquires Hits Telecom

Telecoms

The long-awaited Hits telecom service in Uganda will finally arrive as Orange Uganda as France Telecom announced that it had bought the company.

Hits Telecom, which was registered late last year and was expected to start operations as Uganda's fifth telephone company within the first four months of this year, failed to beat its deadlines, despite testing its call signal.

Last week Jimmy Kiberu, Orange Uganda's Chief Corporate Affairs Officer said Orange Uganda has acquired a 53 per cent stake in Hits Telecom Uganda, making France Telecom the majority shareholder in the new partnership.

"Hits Telecom Uganda provides Orange Uganda Limited with its national licence, the transfer of which has been approved by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)," said Kiberu in a statement. Fred Otunnu, UCC's Director of Communications and Consumer Affairs, confirmed the deal. "It is right and I am aware of it," he said in a telephone interview last week.

The partnership will give Orange a starting point in which to expand and launch its services in Uganda, since Hits Telecom has already rolled out its GSM network within Kampala and neighbouring districts. Orange is expected to invest close to US$375 million and create at least 206 jobs in addition to Hits' $150 million and 400 direct jobs.

"With a rapidly growing population of around 30 million people and a mobile penetration rate of less than 17 per cent by March 2008, Uganda offers major prospects for growth," Kiberu said in his statement. An August survey commissioned by Daily Monitor indicated that Uganda's four telecommunication operators including Zain, MTN, Uganda Telecom and Warid Telecom, have about eight million subscribers.

The Monitor Kampala