Uganda’s Telecom Companies Boast of Eight Million Subscribers

Telecoms

Uganda's four telecommunication companies are projecting to reach more than eight million subscribers before the end of this year. Subscriber estimates from four operators: MTN, Uganda Telecom, Warid and Zain Uganda show that the number of active mobile subscribers in Uganda has risen to more than 7.7 million up from 5.7 million in March. The increase represents 35 per cent growth between March and August this year and the operators still hope for more customers.

The new figure surpasses Uganda Communication Commission (UCC)'s projection estimates of six million subscribers by the end of 2008. Officials from the four companies attributed the growth to the on-going market promotions, innovation and penetration of their networks in new areas.

While operators claim astonishing numbers, it is important to note that a number of subscribers own on average two SIM cards. The new numbers thus, may not necessarily mean that more than 7.7 million Ugandans own mobile phones.

MTN Uganda announced that it had reached three million customers at the end of August. MTN Chief Executive Officer Noel Meier said the company's progressive growth was a result of continuous investment in critical areas that assured customers of superior benefits and better quality service.

"Last year MTN invested more than $100 million (Shs162 billion) in network upgrade and new structures to support unparalleled service delivery and we are beginning to realise the fruits of this investment" he said, at the beginning of this month. In addition, he said more subscribers have been attracted by the company's innovations including MTN Zone, their latest product in communication.

The firm says the innovation has been a success with more than 1.3 million customers registering for the service. Some customers have however criticised the tariff plan for making it expensive to call other networks, yet the company does not come out to tell its subscribers how to revert to their old plans. Those who don't know how to get off the product have called it a trap.

Warid Telecom which kicked off operations in February this year, also boasts of having hit the 860,000 in August. Joseph Walusimbi, the head of Marketing at Warid Telecom attributed the rapid growth to the company's clear and unclogged network but more so to its Mega Bonus marketing campaign and its wide coverage.

Before the launch of the campaign in July, MZul Javaid, the chief executive officer of Warid Telecom Uganda told Business Power that the company had attracted 650,000 subscribers. Their new number suggests that the company grew by 210,000 additional customers in two months, according to Walusimbi." Our target is to have one million by the end of the year and we will definitely achieve it, a confident Walusimbi said in on September 4.

Emmy Olaki, the Marketing Communications officer of Uganda Telecom, said UTL is about to reach the 2.2 million mark on the back of increased subscription, because of the company's Bona Bogere campaign. In February this year, when the operator hit the one million mark, UTL Public Relations Manager, Mark Kaheru, said the number was achieved, due to its aggressive $150 million (Shs243 billion) network and expansion plan.

Zain formerly Celtel Uganda says it reached 1.8 million in July. Its parent company Zain Group has an ambition to double the number of its subscriber from about 50 million today to more than 110 million in all its 22 African and Middle East markets, in the next three years.

The Monitor