The Ugandan regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has received over Ushs 3 billion (USD1.7m) from the three telekom operators in the country: MTN-Uganda, Uganda telecom limited (UTL) and Celtel (U), writes Esther Nakkazi.

  The fee is a requirement under the Communications Act for the Rural Communication Development Policy (RCDF) established in 2001 for all providers of ICT services in the country to contribute 1 percent of their annual revenue to the Fund. UCC officials said this is the third year Celtel (U) has been paying the fee, after getting another licence in 2002 that allowed it to roll out up-country. Before that only the two national operators-MTN and UTL - had been paying the fee. Unlike Celtel, the two national operators have an obligation to provide mobile services countywide.

  MTN today handed over a check worth Ushs 2.1 billion (USD1.2m) to the UCC Executive Director  Patrick Masambu, UTL paid U shs 1.02 billion (USD583,000) and Celtel (U) 153 million (USD$87,420). According to statistics from UCC all the companies have increased their contributions from last year MTN paid Ushs. 1.7 billion (USD971,000), UTL Ushs. 873 million (USD498,000) and Celtel Ushs.140 million (USD80,000) in 2003.

  Masambu said during the press conference to announce receipt of the funds that their target was by the end of 2004 for every district to have an Internet point of presence, public pay phones, ICT training centers, content development and Internet connectivity built through subsidies from the annual contributions by service providers.