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Uganda: Internet Penetration Stands at 37.9%, with 23M Users

The Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) has released its communication sector report of 2019 shows the country’s internet penetration now standing at 37.9%. With over 23 million internet users, a majority being mobile phone users.

The report covers the period from July – September 2019 but also includes information from fourth quarter (Q4) of 2018 for comparison purposes.

According to the report, the penetration in Q4 of 2018 was 36.8% and grew to 37.9% in the Q3 of 2019. However, in the Q1 of 2019 the penetration fell from 36.8% to 35.7% and later in Q2 of 2019 grew to 37.6% and now stands at 37.9%. The change in Q2 to 2019 and Q3 of 2019 was a slight change of 0.3%.

The report further shows that mobile and fixed internet subscription grew by 0.7% and 12.2% respectively. While the estimated number of internet users as of Q3 of 2019 stands at 23,003,411 (grew by 0.7%, Q2 of 2019).

The increase in internet users can be attributed to 0.8% growth of smartphones in the market. This on the other hand explaining why mobile internet penetration leads fixed. It is with no doubt that the internet market is dominated by mobile internet. Meaning, that a majority of internet users are using their mobile phones to access the internet.

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Mobile internet subscription grew by 0.7% from Q2 — Q4 and now over 15,261,314 access internet on their mobile phones. This number is attributed to one buying a mobile phone with internet access capabilities.

Mobile phone manufacturers are today making their handsets affordable for everyone — from high-end phones to entry-level phones. Today, a smartphone can cost as low as UGX100,000 and a feature phone can cost as low as UGX50,000.

A consumer displays an itel A16 smartphone that can cost about UGX150,000 or less. Photo by: PC TECH MAGAZINE/Olupot Nathan Ernest.
A consumer displays an itel A16 smartphone that can cost about UGX150,000 or less. Photo by: PC TECH MAGAZINE/Olupot Nathan Ernest.

UCC’s communication sector report shows the there are more features phones than smartphones on the market. As of Q3 of 2019, there are 16 million features phones and 5.6 million smartphones in the market.

Smart and feature phones subscriptions in Uganda.
Smart and feature phones subscriptions in Uganda.

Jumia reports in 2017, that over the years the average price of a smartphone in Uganda decreased by almost 45%. Further noting that with the combination of a rising middle-class, and the reduction in average smartphone prices, Uganda will continue to see an upward trend in smartphone sales.

Therefore, one of the reason in increase in internet penetration today is as a result of cheap data enabled smartphones.

Internet today can cost as low as UGX250. While purchasing mobile data, price matters the most and other factors; speeds, ISP, and volume follow. The volume of data is as well considered as a key factor. In an article published by PC Tech Magazine last month shows Africell gives more data for less compared to its competition.

The best way to estimate how data you need, using a data calculator could be the best solution. MTN has a data calculator their consumers use to estimate their data consumption.

Uganda’s current population is 42 million, meaning more than half of the country’s population is using internet. Either on their mobile phones or computer, but access the internet. The remaining portion is for those with no access to the internet — probably people (deep) in rural areas. One, can’t afford buying internet-enabled handsets. And two, the cost of internet.

World Population Review estimates Uganda’s population in 2020 to grow to 45 million. If we roughly estimate, there could be chance of internet users increasing by 2 million, summing up-to around 25 million.

Updated since its time of publication….

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