Document Sample

           January 2001
Michael Minges, Walter Brown and Tim Kelly wrote this report. Vanessa Gray
and Mark Woodall provided editorial comments. The layout, formatting and
production of the report was carried out by Nathalie Delmas. It is based on
field research undertaken 21 – 25 February 2000 as well as reports and
articles identified in the bibliography or as footnotes. We would like to thank
Brian Reaves (CelTel), Graham Mathews (MSI) and Charles Tibenderana (UCC)
for their valuable comments on the draft version of this report. We are par-
ticularly indebted to Dr. Godfrey Kibuuka, Commissioner Communications,
who greatly facilitated our research; to Charles Musisi of Uganda On Line,
who shared his frank and insightful views with us; to Daniel Stern of Uganda
Connect, who provided detailed comments; and to the others identified in
the ‘Persons and Organizations met’ who took the time to answer our count-
less questions. The views expressed are those of the authors and may not
necessarily reflect the opinions of the International Telecommunication Un-
ion or its members or the Government of the Republic of Uganda. This is one
of a series of Internet diffusion case studies, which are being undertaken by
the ITU. More details can be found on the web site at


1. Country background ............................................................... 1
 1.1 Overview ............................................................................. 1
 1.2 Demography ........................................................................ 1
 1.3 Economy ............................................................................. 1
 1.4 Human development ............................................................. 2
 1.5 Political ............................................................................... 2

2. Information and communication technology status ............... 4
 2.1 Telecommunication Sector ..................................................... 4
 2.2 Regulation and policy-making ................................................ 7
 2.3 Network ............................................................................ 11
 2.4 International service ........................................................... 12
 2.5 Information Technology Sector ............................................. 15
 2.6 Mass media ....................................................................... 18

3. Internet strategy & policy .................................................... 21
 3.1 Role of incumbent telecom operator in Internet ...................... 21
 3.2 Pricing structure for Internet services ................................... 21
 3.3 Regulatory status of Internet ............................................... 22
 3.4 Universal access ................................................................. 23

4. Sector absorption ................................................................. 28
 4.1 Government ...................................................................... 28
 4.2 Health .............................................................................. 33
 4.3 Education .......................................................................... 33
 4.4 Business ........................................................................... 36

5. Conclusions .......................................................................... 41
 5.1 State of the Internet in Uganda ............................................ 41
 5.2 Strategies and recommendations ......................................... 43

Persons and organizations met ................................................ 47
Acronyms and Abbreviations .................................................... 48
Bibliography ............................................................................. 49
Telecommunication tariffs ........................................................ 50


1.1 Map of Uganda ..................................................................... 1
2.1 Industry structure of the Ugandan Telecommunications Sector ... 5
2.2 Evolution of the Ugandan network .......................................... 7
2.3 UTL's billed and actual revenue, 1999 ................................... 13
2.4 International traffic ............................................................. 13
2.5 Internet users in Uganda ..................................................... 17
2.6 Mass Media Online .............................................................. 19
3.1 Uganda's domain name ....................................................... 24
3.2 Public payphone shelter ...................................................... 25
4.1 Uganda Tourist Board Web site ............................................. 38
5.1 State of the Internet in Uganda ............................................ 41


1.1 Human Development Indicators ............................................. 2
2.1 Regional structure of telephone demand and UTL roll-out
    obligations .......................................................................... 9
2.2 UTL's tariff structure ........................................................... 10
2.3 Telecom market indicators for Uganda ................................... 14
2.4 Personal computer market in Uganda .................................... 16
2.5 ISPs in Uganda .................................................................. 17
2.6 ISP international connectivity ............................................... 18
2.7 Broadcasting indicators ....................................................... 20
3.1 Internet access prices in Africa ............................................. 22
3.2 Internet licenses ................................................................ 23
3.3 Cybercafés in Kampala ........................................................ 25
4.1 Uganda government web sites ............................................. 29
4.2 Destination Uganda ............................................................ 39
5.1 Internet diffusion in Uganda ................................................ 42


3.1 The Ugandan Telecentre experience ...................................... 26
4.1 Uganda Government Web Presence ...................................... 28
4.2 Digital Posts ...................................................................... 31
4.3 NADIC .............................................................................. 33
4.4 WorLD .............................................................................. 35
4.5 Training the trainers ........................................................... 36

                                                              1. Country Background

1. Country background

1.1     Overview
                                               other locations are classified as mu-
Located in Eastern Africa, the Repub-          nicipalities, none of which has more
lic of Uganda is bordered by Sudan on          than 100’000 population. Around
the north, Kenya on the east, Tanza-           85 per cent of Ugandans reside in ru-
nia on the south, Rwanda on the                ral areas.
southwest and the Democratic Repub-
lic of the Congo on the west. The capi-        English was introduced during the co-
tal is Kampala. Administratively, the          lonial period. Although it is the official
country is divided into four statistical       language, it is not the first language
regions and 45 districts. Districts are        of the vast majority of the population.
further divided into counties, sub-            Indeed, it was estimated that only
counties, parishes and groups of vil-          around one million people spoke Eng-
                                           Figure 1.1: Map of Uganda
Although land-locked,
Uganda is in the Great
Lakes region of Africa with
some 15 per cent of its
surface area consisting of
water. A significant portion
of Lake Victoria—the larg-
est fresh water lake in Af-
rica and the source of the
river Nile—is found in
Uganda territory. Other
large lakes include Lake
Edward, Lake Albert, Lake
Kyoga, and Lake George.

1.2     Demography

The last census was car-
ried out in 1991 when the
population of the country
was estimated at 16.7 mil-
lion. The latest estimate,
                                 Source: The World Factbook.
for mid-year 1999, places
the size of the population
at 21.6 million. The popu-                 lish as a second language in 1977.1
lation growth rate during the 1990s        Though that number has certainly
was 2.6 per cent per year. Uganda has      risen, Ugandans primarily speak one
a young population with roughly half       of the over 45 other dialects used in
its inhabitants under the age of 14.       the country. Over 15 per cent of the
This is partly due to a life expectancy    population speak Luganda, the most
of only around 40 years.                   widely spoken second language after
There are around 4.4 million house-
holds in the country with the average      1.3     Economy
household consisting of five people.
The largest city is Kampala with           Uganda’s 1998 Gross Domestic Prod-
890’000 inhabitants, around 4.1 per        uct (GDP) was US$ six billion or
cent of the population. About a dozen      US$ 287 per capita, ranking it as one

Uganda Case Study

    of the poorest countries in the world            1.4     Human development
    and officially classifying it as a Least
    Developed Country (LDC). Agriculture             Uganda ranks 158 out of 174 coun-
    contributes over 40 per cent of GDP              tries in the United Nations Develop-
    although its share has declined over             ment Program (UNDP) Human
    ten per cent since 1990. Manufactur-             Development Index (HDI) and is cat-
    ing and construction account for over            egorized as being in the low human
    15 per cent of the economy. Services             development group. The HDI is a com-
    add around one third to the economy              posite of key indicators of well being
    of which the communications sector               including life expectancy, literacy,
    (posts and telecommunications) share             school enrolment and per capita GDP.
    is 0.5 per cent. Uganda has been clas-           Although Uganda rates favourably in
    sified by the World Bank as a Heavily-           some indicators compared to other
    Indebted Poor Country, a process that            African countries, its life expectancy
    started in April 1997, which means               is one of the lowest in the world. Some
    that it is eligible for favourable con-          human development indicators for
    sideration with regard to debt relief.           Uganda are shown in Table 1.1. It
    In February 2000, the value of poten-            should be noted that these are na-
    tial debt relief available to Uganda was         tional averages and there are signifi-
    raised to US$ two billion.3                      cant regional differences.

    The country balance of payments has              1.5    Political
    been in deficit for some years, with the
    1998 figure estimated at some                    Uganda was widely considered to have
    US$ 400 million. Imports are roughly             among the most favourable develop-
    twice the value of exports. The bulk of          ment prospects of any African nation
    Uganda’s exports are agricultural prod-          following independence from the
    ucts. Its main export is coffee (55 per          United Kingdom in 1962. This hope
    cent of total export value). Tea, tobacco        was shattered by a coup in Janu-
    and fish are other traditional exports.          ary 1971 led by Idi Amin. The coun-
    Electric current is also exported, attest-       try was embroiled in civil unrest during
    ing to the country’s vast potential for          Amin’s reign. Nationalist forces aided
    hydroelectric energy. The relatively low         by Tanzania toppled Amin and he fled
    contribution of energy to total exports          the country in April 1979. Soon after,
    (2.2 per cent) is more a reflection of           civil war broke out and finally ended
    inexpensive prices offered to neighbour-         with the leader of the National Resist-
    ing countries rather than its true value.        ance Army, Yoweri Museveni, selected
    Ironically, Uganda’s second largest im-          as President in 1986. Museveni was
    port is petroleum needed for its largest         voted into office in May 1996 in the
    import, road vehicles. Cereals and medi-         first presidential election since inde-
    cine are also major import products.             pendence.

                       Table 1.1: Human Development Indicators
                                          Uganda, 1997

       Indicator                      Value             Note

       Life expectancy at birth     39.6 years          Number of years a newborn infant will
       Adult literacy rate             64%              Percentage 15 and older that can
                                                        read and write.
       School enrolment ratio          40%              Measures percentage of school age
                                                        population attending first, second and
                                                        third-level educational establishments.
       GDP per capita (PPP$)           1'160            Measured in Purchasing Power
                                                        Parity (PPP), which adjusts for the
                                                        relative price levels.

     Source: UNDP.

                                                                                    1. Country Background

                         In October 1995 a new constitution           Uganda in terms of both Rwandan
                         was adopted. That same year, the             refugees as well as guerrillas enter-
                         government restored the legal system         ing Ugandan territory. In the north
                         to one based on English common law.          of the country, rebels forming part
                         The National Assembly consists of            of the “Lord’s resistance Army”, who
                         214 directly elected members and             receive assistance from Sudan,
                         62 appointed ones. Representatives           cause problems. Finally, Uganda is
                         serve for five years. Although politi-       one of five African countries with
                         cal parties are allowed, they cannot         troops in the Democratic Republic of
                         sponsor candidates. In a June 2000           the Congo. This open-ended military
                         referendum, Uganda voted to retain           commitment is consuming resources
                         the party-less system.                       from development projects within
                                                                      the country (for instance, the na-
                         Uganda has recently faced political          tional census has been postponed)
                         tension with bordering countries. The        and is making regional co-operation
                         civil war from Rwanda has affected           more difficult.4


    See the Ethnologue web site at
    For more on the Baganda and Luganda see
    See World Bank Press Release at
    The government spends 20 per cent of its budget on defence compared to 13 per cent on education, 3 per
    cent on health and less than two per cent on roads. See “Functional Analysis of Uganda Central Government
    Recurrent Expenditure” in Uganda Bureau of Statistics. Statistical Abstract. July 1999.

Uganda Case Study

    2. Information and communication technology status

    2.1 Telecommunication Sector                      one per cent). This one per cent levy,
                                                      which is to be devoted to the Rural
    2.1.1 Industry structure                          Communications Development Fund
                                                      (RCDF), has never been collected but
    The Ministry of Works, Housing and                the UCC plans to demand payment in
    Communications (MOWHC) (http://                   the very near future. The UCC also has is the line min-             significant real estate holdings that it
    istry with responsibility for postal and          inherited from the break-up of UPTC,
    telecommunications matters, with the              which presently finances an important
    exception of broadcasting, which falls            share of its operations.
    under the Ministry of Information. The
    Ministry grants “major” telecommuni-              Uganda Communications Tribunal
    cation licenses (i.e., facilities-based li-       (UCT). The Communications Act calls
    cences) and appoints three members                for the establishment of UCT. The Tri-
    of the Uganda Communications Com-                 bunal is to consist of three members
    mission (UCC). Three other Commis-                appointed by the President and is to be
    sioners are nominated by the Uganda               responsible for any disputes related to
    Institute of Professional Engineers, the          communications services. It can issue
    Uganda Law Society and the Broadcast-             decisions with the powers of a high
    ing Council. Once the six Commission-             court. These decisions can be chal-
    ers have been appointed, they nominate            lenged in the country’s Court of Appeal.
    the seventh Commissioner, who be-                 The members have not been appointed
    comes the Executive Director.                     as of February 2000, nor are there pres-
                                                      ently any outstanding disputes that
    The Uganda Communications Com-                    would merit its intervention at this time.
    mission (UCC) (
    .ug) is the national communications               The sector itself comprises a Govern-
    regulator. It was created from the re-            ment owned postal services provider,
    organization of the Uganda Posts and              Uganda Posts Limited, a telecommuni-
    Telecommunication Corporation                     cations network provider undergoing
    (UPTC) as a result of the 1997 Uganda             partial privatization, Uganda Telecom
    Communications Act. The Commission                Limited (UTL), and several private net-
    consists of seven members (“Commis-               work and service providers providing
    sioners”) including the Executive Di-             fixed line and mobile telephony, and
    rector, in addition to support staff              Internet services. The most significant
    (numbering around 20 in February                  of these is the Second Network Opera-
    2000). The Commissioners were ap-                 tor (SNO), MTN-Uganda, which gained
    pointed in September 1998 and the                 its license via an open competitive ten-
    Executive Director was appointed in               der in 1998. The structure of the sector
    December 1999. While radio and tele-              is shown in Figure 2.1.
    vision broadcasting fall under the Min-
    istry of Information, technical aspects           2.1.2 Industry players
    such as frequency assignment, are the
    responsibility of UCC. The UCC also               Until 1994, all telecommunication
    issues minor telecommunication li-                services were provided by the Uganda
    censes for activities such as paging,             Posts and Telecommunications Corpo-
    Internet service and private telecom-             ration (UPTC), the wholly government
    munication services. The UCC is                   owned telecommunications service
    funded from spectrum fees, grants                 provider. Since then, the telecommu-
    from government and other approved                nications sector has been progres-
    sources, and a share of revenues from             sively liberalized. Two fixed line
    licensed operators (currently set at              telephone network operators and three

                                  2. Information and communication technology status

                   mobile telecommunication network op-            provided only fixed line telecommuni-
                   erators have been licensed. By the end          cation services. Nevertheless, it is pre-
                   of 1999, the following network provid-          paring itself for competition in all other
                   ers and operators were competing for            services through a partnership with
                   market share in Uganda:                         external strategic investors. Of par-
                                                                   ticular note is UTL’s interest in the
                   Uganda Telecommunications Limi-                 Internet where a market study was
                   ted (UTL). UTL is the successor of              commissioned from ITU in autumn
                   UPTC after the separation of postal             1999. UTL has developed a compre-
                   from telecommunications functions.              hensive business plan for the intro-
                   UTL was incorporated in February                duction of Internet networks and
                   1998 and is licensed to provide all tele-       services throughout the country, and
                   communication services—including                has the mandate to use these serv-
                   fixed line, mobile, and data/Internet.          ices for the provision of packet
                   However, up to the end of 1999, UTL             switched voice and data services.

      Figure 2.1: Industry structure of the Ugandan Telecommunications Sector

                                         Government of
                                        Ministry of Works,
                                   Transport & Communications

                                      Uganda Communications
                                        Commission (UCC)

                                                          Second Network
                       Uganda Telecom Ltd     connect
                                                          MTN-Uganda Ltd

              Minor License               Minor License                    Minor License
                 holders                     holders                          holders


Note: Celtel is regarded as a “minor license holder”.
Source: Government of Uganda, Privatization of Uganda Telecom, Information Memorandum.

Uganda Case Study

    UTL’s recently established partnership          work coverage expansion and Internet
    with Detecon of Germany and Telecel             plans, Celtel has embarked on the roll
    International, an outcome of the pri-           out of a national 16x2Mbit/s microwave
    vatization process (see section 2.2.2),         backbone, along the same physical
    is expected to result in rapid expan-           route as UTL and MTN. Celtel has plans
    sion and development of Internet and            for international Internet connectivity
    mobile telephony services, in addition          via a VSAT link-up to Intelsat and to
    to the traditional fixed line networks.5        connect remote rural customers via
                                                    domestic VSAT networks. Unlike MTN
    Celtel Uganda (http://www.nic .ug/              or UTL, Celtel does not have an inter-
    CelTel). Celtel was the first private           national voice license nor does it have
    telecommunication operator to be li-            network roll-out obligations.
    censed in Uganda in October 1994
    after the decision to liberalize the tel-       MTN Uganda. MTN (
    ecommunication sector. It launched     was granted a so-called “Sec-
    the country’s first mobile cellular serv-       ond National Operator’s” license in April
    ice in May 1995 using the GSM digital           1998. The license essentially covers any
    system. Celtel’s shareholders were:             telecommunication service that MTN
                                                    wants to provide including fixed, mo-
    ·    Mobile Systems International               bile, long-distance and Internet. It paid
         (MSI)-Cellular (42%), an Am-               US$ 5.8 million for the license and is
         sterdam-headquartered cellular             obliged to install 89’000 lines within five
         investment company                         years (this apparently includes mobile
         (http://www.msi-cellular. com);            cellular subscribers). MTN launched its
                                                    wireless network in October 1998. Al-
    ·    Vodafone Airtouch (37%), UK-               though fixed wireless has been avail-
         based and one of the world’s larg-         able since the latter quarter of 1999,
         est mobile cellular operators              most customers have opted for the
         (http://www. vodafone-airtouch-            mobile service, and most of them have;                                  taken the pre-paid option. The tele-
                                                    phone for fixed-cellular, provided by Sie-
    ·    International Finance Corporation          mens, at around US$ 700 each, is much
         (IFC) (10.5%), the World Bank’s            more expensive than the equivalent
         private sector development arm6            mobile handsets, which are often bun-
         (; and                  dled with the price of a subscription,
                                                    and for which there is already a vibrant
    ·    Commonwealth Development                   second-hand market. Consequently, the
         Corporation (CDC) (10.5%), the             number of fixed-cellular subscribers by
         UK’s overseas development                  February 2000 was still under 200. By
         agency (             contrast, by the end of 1999, MTN al-
                                                    ready had over 60’000 mobile cellular
    MSI has acquired Vodafone Airtouch’s            subscribers, making it the largest
    and CDC’s shareholding and now has              telecommuni-cation service provider in
    overall management control. Celtel’s            the country. In just two years from its
    mobile network has grown to 22’000 us-          introduction, MTN’s customer base has
    ers, 77 per cent of which are prepaid           exceeded UTL’s fixed line capacity and
    (17’000). However, since the introduc-          has overtaken Celtel, its mobile te-
    tion of competition in the mobile te-           lephony competitor, by a wide margin.
    lephony sector, Celtel’s growth has been        It has also succeeded in rolling out its
    limited. Subsequently, the company has          network to all 46 main cities in the coun-
    developed new growth strategies and             try, reaching parts of the country, which
    plans to increase its capacity and cov-         are not currently served with fixed-line
    erage significantly. This growth strat-         access.
    egy includes entering the Internet
    market, and various new service offer-          Although MTN focused its early roll out
    ings such as free voice mail.7 Celtel’s         strategy on the lucrative mobile te-
    lead foreign partner, MSI, has an-              lephony market, it is now giving in-
    nounced a strategy for Africa-wide              creased attention to the business
    Internet development. To meet its net-          market. MTN’s solution is to use point-

                                                   2. Information and communication technology status

                                   Figure 2.2: Evolution of the Ugandan network

           By communication service, and by comparison with East African neighbours, 1995-99

  Uryrƒu‚rà        150                                        0.8       1.2
                               `rh…†Ãrqvtà                                                                    Kenya

                               "   Ã9rpr€ir…                   0.6   q
  Vthqhà          100                                              ‘
  †                                                       0.4      0.8
                     50                                              i                                          Tanzania
                                                               0.2   ‚
                     0                                         0     ’
                                                                     ‡                                          Malaw i
                          ’95      ’96    ’97    ’98    ’99          †
           Mobile          2        4      7     26     87           r
                                                                     y   0.2
           F ixed         39        46    54     57     59           U

                          0.21     0.25   0.29   0.39   0.67             0.0
           P enetration
                                                                           1995        1996   1997    1998    1999

Source: ITU World Telecommunication Indicators Database.

                           to-point microwave radio to provide                     munications Act, approved by Parlia-
                           an ISDN primary rate wireless inter-                    ment in August 1997:
                           face to buildings and businesses within
                           line of site of its transmitters in the                 ·     Restructuring Uganda Posts and
                           Kampala area. These customers can                             Telecommunications Corporation
                           then provide local wiring for end us-                         (UPTC). Uganda Telecom was
                           ers who include Internet and fax us-                          split off from UPTC and incorpo-
                           ers as well as telephone users. Initial                       rated in February 1998.
                           customers include computer distribu-
                           tors, hotels and trading companies.                     ·     Creation of an independent tel-
                           MTN Uganda’s ownership structure is                           ecommunication regulator. The
                           the following:                                                Uganda Communications Com-
                                                                                         mission (UCC) was established in
                           ·         Mobile Telephone Networks                           1997 as a result of the Communi-
                                     (MTN) (50%). The South African                      cations Act. Its executive direc-
                                     mobile operator also has cellular                   tor is Patrick Masambu, formerly
                                     investments in Cameroon,                            with UTL.
                                     Rwanda and Swaziland;
                                                                                   ·     Introduction of competition. A
                           ·         Telia (30%), Sweden’s incumbent                     private company, Celtel, obtained
                                     telecommunication operator;                         a license for mobile cellular in
                                                                                         1994. A full-fledged Second Na-
                           ·         Invesco (10%), a Ugandan com-                       tional Operator (SNO) license
                                     pany; and                                           was awarded to MTN Uganda in
                                                                                         1998. The SNO license allows any
                           ·         Tristar (10%), a Rwandan com-                       telecommunication service to be
                                     pany.                                               provided. All non-basic telecom
                                                                                         services are open to competition.
                           2.2            Regulation and policy-                         According to the Uganda Com-
                                          making                                         munications Act, UTL and the
                                                                                         second network operator are to
                           2.2.1 Market liberalization
                                                                                         be awarded a period of protec-
                           The government has embarked on a                              tion from further full-service
                           four-part strategy of liberalization in                       competition (in particular, for in-
                           the telecom sector. Much of this strat-                       ternational service) for a period
                           egy is outlined in the Uganda Com-                            of five years. This five year ex-

Uganda Case Study

         clusivity period began in                   cently been paid for mobile licences in
         June 2000 and will run until                countries close to Uganda, it is likely
         2005.                                       that the price of the mobile license
                                                     alone would have been close to the
    ·    Privatization of incumbent opera-           entire price paid for UTL. In other
         tor. See below.                             words, the price paid for UTL’s fixed
                                                     line network and assets is very low and
    2.2.2 Privatization                              might even be negative. The delay in
    The privatization process in Uganda’s            concluding the sale has allowed MTN
    telecom sector commenced in Octo-                to become the largest operator in the
    ber 1994 with the licensing of Celtel,           country and has arguably delayed UTL’s
    a private company, to provide mobile             own plans to enter the mobile and ISP
    cellular service. This was followed by           markets. It would appear to be the case
    the issuance of the SNO license to MTN           that this has resulted in a much lower
    Uganda in 1998. The sale to a strate-            price for UTL than could have been ob-
    gic investor of a majority of shares in          tained a year or so ago.
    the incumbent fixed-line operator, UTL
    was intended to be an early part of              Nevertheless, it should be taken into
    the process. However, this was de-               account that, in acquiring UTL, the con-
    layed for various legal and operational          sortium has also taken on considerable
    reasons. Initial talks with Telekom              debts and pension liabilities (including
    Malaysia broke down following the                staff of the former UPTC). UTL’s debts,
    Asian financial crisis while a later at-         as of 31 March 1999 amounted to some
    tempt to involve WorldTel proved abor-           Ushs 47.0 billion (US$ 31.4 million).
    tive. Consequently, Uganda was, until            This includes interest payable on loans
    recently, in the unusual position of hav-        from, inter alia:
    ing introduced competition, including
    international services, before it had pri-       ·    the World Bank (via IDA) for
    vatized the incumbent operator.                       loans granted in 1987 and 1990;

    After two false starts, an agreement to          ·    the French government;
    sell was finally announced in February
    2000, following a competitive bidding            ·    the African Development Bank;
    process. The process was concluded in
    June 2000. Some 51 per cent of UTL               ·    the government of the Republic
    were sold to the international UCOM                   of Korea.
    consortium for US$ 33.5 million. 8
    Telecel International, the Pan-African           UTL’s cash flow in the 13 months to
    mobile cellular operator, heads UCOM             31 March 1999 was Ushs 15.9 billion
    with 80 per cent, with the remaining             (US$ 10.6 million), which was more
    20 per cent held by Detecon (http://             or less equivalent to the annual inter-, the               est payable on loans, leaving UTL in a
    international consulting subsidiary of           poor position to meet its other liabili-
    Germany’s incumbent telecom opera-               ties and to invest in network roll-out.
    tor, Deutsche Telekom (http://               2.2.3 Universal service and
                                                           quality of service obliga-
    The sale price values UTL at                           tions
    US$ 65.7 million, or just over                   In acquiring the majority shareholding
    US$ 1’000 per subscriber line. Given             in UTL, the Detecon-led consortium
    that the revenue per subscriber in 1999          has also taken on a number of obliga-
    was some US$ 870, this sum repre-                tions with regard to future network
    sents just over one year’s revenue.              roll-out during the period of duopoly.
    However, it is perhaps more relevant             In particular, the operator must roll-
    to consider what would have been the             out some 100’000 new lines within the
    price if the consortium had been bid-            five year period of which 30’000 sub-
    ding only for the mobile license (with           scriber lines and 3’000 payphones
    international gateway) that UTL holds.           must be within specified regions (see
    Judging by the prices, which have re-            Table 2.1). The remaining 67’000 lines

                                       2. Information and communication technology status

                       can be distributed according to de-             ·    Major licenses. These are issued
                       mand.                                                directly by the Ministry, on the
                                                                            advice of the UCC. They cover the
                       In addition, UTL will take on quality of             main facilities-based carriers in the
                       service obligations for nine specified               fields of fixed and mobile telecom-
                       indicators. Those indicators relevant                munication services, long-distance
                       to Internet service provision include                and leased lines capacity resale,
                       the following targets:                               satellite services and third party
                                                                            private network services.
                       ·     to increase local call completion
                             rate to over 85 per cent within           ·    Minor licenses. These are
                             five years (the existing level is              granted directly by the UCC and
                             35 per cent);                                  mainly cover non-facilities based
                                                                            services (such as messaging,
                       ·     to fix 85 per cent of faults within            value-added services, private
                             24 hours and 90 per cent within                telecommunications services,
                             72 hours;                                      equipment sale and leasing) as
                                                                            well as facilities-based networks
                       ·     to achieve 95 per cent network                 for paging, telex, telegraph etc.
                             digitization; and                              Although it is not specifically
                                                                            stated in the Act, Internet Serv-
                       ·     to ensure a maximum connection                 ice Provision comes under the
                             time of ten days of request within             category of minor licenses and
                             urban areas.                                   some eight ISP licenses had been
                                                                            awarded as of February 2000 of
                       2.2.4 Licensing                                      which four were already active.
                       One of the major changes introduced
                       by the 1997 Communications Act is               Licensees are to contribute one per
                       the licensing regime for telecommu-             cent of their annual revenues to the
                       nication operators and service provid-          UCC. It is intended that these fees
                       ers, which is administered by the UCC.          should eventually be used as the ba-
                       One of the principal functions of the           sis for the Rural Communications De-
                       UCC is to monitor, inspect, license and         velopment Fund (RCDF). The UCC also
                       regulate telecommunications in the              manages licenses for radio frequency
                       country. The licensing regime recog-            use. The market for private radio sta-
                       nizes two broad types of license:               tions is particularly active.

   Table 2.1: Regional structure of telephone demand and UTL roll-out obligations

                  Existing distribution at 31/3/99 and regional roll-out obligations to 2005

 Region           Subscriber       Public          Teledensity,           Roll-out              Roll-out
                    lines,       payphones,        at 31/3/99            obligation,           obligation,
                                                                       subscriber lines        payphones

 Kampala            36’472            565             1.86%                 10’000                1’000
 Central             3’920            162              0.1%                 5’000                  500
 Eastern             4’560            106             0.09%                 6’000                  600
 Northern             824              7              0.02%                 3’000                  300
 Western             6’053            194             0.11%                 6’000                  600
 National total     51’829           1’034            0.26%                30’000 *               3’000

Note: * These figures do not include a further 67’000 lines to be installed by 2005 according to the
distribution of demand.
Source: Government of Uganda, Privatization of Uganda Telecom, Information Memorandum.

Uganda Case Study

    2.2.5 Tariff rebalancing                          ·    A national dialing code for local
    Uganda is in a relatively unusual po-                  rate access to the Internet. Some
    sition relative to other African coun-                 15 different African countries
    tries in that the process of tariff                    currently have national dialing
    rebalancing began early. Now, UTL’s                    codes9 . The lack of one in Uganda
    tariffs for international calls are among              means that the price of access
    the lowest in Africa and its settlement                for long-distance dial-up is
    rate with the United States (US$ 0.25                  US$ 8 per hour;
    per minute at May 2000) is the low-
    est. However, UTL’s local call tariffs are        ·    A “premium rate” access number
    among the highest in Africa. The ratio                 for Internet whereby the costs of
    between local and long distance calls                  Internet access are bundled into
    is 1:2.5 (1:10 or more is common in                    the cost of a local call. In Egypt,
    Africa). Table 2.2 summarizes the                      where this service was intro-
    main rates in force.                                   duced in December 1999, it is
                                                           already realizing more than a mil-
    While the moves towards tariff                         lion dollars per month in rev-
    rebalancing are to be applauded, the                   enues, shared between the
    unintended side effect is that dial-up                 participating ISPs and Telecom
    Internet usage is not as high as it would              Egypt. ISPs in Uganda have re-
    be if the local call charge was lower.                 quested such a facility but UTL
    However, the main problem here is not                  has not yet delivered it.
    so much the high initial charge
    (Five US cents per minute), but rather            2.2.6 Interconnection
    that there are no internet-friendly tar-          Since the number of mobilephones in
    iffs that might allow, for instance:              Uganda overtook the number of fixed-
                                                      lines, in the second half of 1999, the
    ·     Untimed local call access after a           issue of mobile/fixed interconnection
          certain length of time (e.g., af-           has become more significant. How-
          ter 15 minutes). Instead, the               ever, the stakes have shifted consid-
          price of using the Internet for             erably. While UTL was still the
          local call-dial-up is US$ 3 per             dominant operator, it could afford to
          hour (peak time);                           charge relatively high prices for calls

                                          Table 2.2: UTL's tariff structure

                               February 2000, in Ugandan Shillings and US cents per minute

        Tariff                                            In Ugandan Shillings                    In US$

        Fixed charges (business & residential)
           · Connection fee                                      170’000                           113.33
           · Subscription                                   10’000 per month                         6.67

        Local calls:
          · Peak rate                                         75 per minute                          0.05
          · Economy (8pm – 6 am)                              45 per minute                          0.03
          · Super-economy                                     25 per minute                         0.017
            (2 pm sat – 8am Mon)

        National long-distance rate                          200 per minute                          0.13

        International calls:
           · East Africa                                     1’500 per minute                         1.00
           · Other int’l                                      1’800, 2’000 or           1.20, 1.33 or 1.53
                                                             2’300 per minute

        Source: UTL.

               2. Information and communication technology status

terminated on its network. Now that             SMS messages to mobile subscribers.
it is not the dominant operator, a sig-         However, it is expected that these will
nificant and rising proportion of UTL-          come as mobile Internet applications
billed calls now go to Celtel or MTN            enter the market.
mobile subscribers. Thus, whereas
UTL originally had a motivation to seek         The regulatory framework for inter-
high interconnect rates, it is now seek-        connection is based on contracts be-
ing much lower ones.                            tween operators, which should be
                                                based on principles of neutrality, non-
In the eight months to May 1999,                discrimination and equality of access.
UTL’s outgoing traffic to MTN was               All interconnect agreements are sub-
9.2 million minutes and its incoming            ject to review and approval by the
traffic was 4.5 million minutes. How-           regulatory, the UCC, after a five-year
ever, for much of that period, MTN had          period. All interconnect disputes
fewer than 20’000 subscribers. It is            should be arbitrated by a Commission
likely that the interconnect flows af-          established by the UCC.
ter May 1999 were much higher, with
an increasing share of total traffic be-        2.3    Network
ing between MTN subscribers.
                                                2.3.1 Backbone network
The original interconnect arrangement           A Master Plan for the Ugandan net-
was negotiated between Celtel and               work was developed in 1993 under a
UTL and foresaw interconnect rates at           contract funded by NTT, Japan. This
500 Ush per minute for termination              was updated in the form of a demand
of calls on Celtel’s network (mobile)           forecast, carried out in 1997 by a con-
and 300 Ush per minute for terminat-            sultant and funded by the ITU. This is
ing on UTL’s network (fixed). These             still used, though it has been over-
high rates are one reason why Celtel’s          taken by events, in particular the rapid
original attempts to popularize mobile          expansion of mobile communications.
in Uganda were not successful.
                                                UTL’s switching network comprises
MTN’s entry into the market changed             17 digital, 26 analogue and 62
the situation radically. It offered UTL         manual exchanges. In general, Kam-
a termination rate for calls on the             pala is well served with modern, dig-
mobile network of just 350 Ush per              ital equipment, but the rest of the
minute and agreed to pay UTL 150 Ush            country is not so fortunate and parts
for calls terminating on the fixed net-         of the network are obsolete. Mod-
work. With these low prices in place,           ernization of the network has de-
it was able to offer considerably re-           pended on grants and loans from
duced prices to consumers. MTN’s ini-           foreign partners, including from the
tial efforts to negotiate a low rate of         Korean and Belgian governments.
interconnect with Celtel for mobile to          For instance, the Belgian government
mobile calls was rejected and a rate            is funding a US$ 4.5 million project
of Ush 210 per minute was estab-                to establish a 3’000 line exchange in
lished. However, this was subse-                Gulu and an SDH microwave link
quently reduced and Celtel is now               between Gulu and Kampala. How-
negotiating a lower interconnect rate           ever, one problem with such donor-
with UTL, too, as part of its efforts to        funded projects is that they are
relaunch its service. As from                   frequently awarded at above-market
1 March 2000, Celtel’s new intercon-            prices and the beneficiary is often
nect rates are 160 Ush per minute for           locked into expensive maintenance
calls to and from the fixed network.            contracts once the initial installation
                                                is implemented.
For the moment, there are no specific
interconnect rates for mobile access            Around 90 per cent of subscribers are
to Internet-based services, for in-             connected to automatic exchanges.
stance to develop WAP (Wireless Ap-             Some fibre is deployed in the back-
plication Protocols) services or to             bone network, specifically between
encourage use of the Internet to send           Kampala and Entebbe but the major-

Uganda Case Study

    ity of the backbone network is pro-              tween availability of capacity and
    vided by microwave links. Interna-               location of demand. Thus, while the
    tional connectivity is provided                  available line capacity at the end of
    principally by a satellite earth station         1999 was just over 85’000 lines,
    at Mpoma, near Kampala.                          fewer than 60’000 lines, or 70 per
                                                     cent of capacity, had actually been
    UTL is involved in an East-African               installed. The available unused ca-
    project for co-operation on the crea-            pacity is more than twice the size of
    tion of a digital transmission network.          the waiting list. Capacity utilization
    The project was signed on                        is highest in Kampala (>80%) and
    29 April 1997 and tender notices were            lowest in Central, Eastern and North-
    issued in July 1999. UTL’s contribu-             ern regions (around 40%). A second
    tion to the US$ 57 million project is            problem plaguing UTL has been un-
    some US$ 13 million. The project may             paid bills and difficulties over debt
    have a higher chance of success if               recovery, including from government
    Detecon succeeds in the Tanzania                 departments. The pre-paid systems
    Telecom privatization process.                   used by the cellular operators largely
                                                     avoid this problem.
    MTN’s backbone network, which is also
    based principally around SDH micro-              2.4     International service
    wave links, has the advantage of be-
    ing much more modern and                         2.4.1 International traffic
    homogeneous than UTL’s network and               Like many other developing coun-
    is also more easily upgradeable, given           tries, Uganda is heavily dependent
    its modular design and MTN’s easier              upon revenues from international
    access to financial resources. It is also        telecommunications. However, the
    being extended more rapidly into sec-            level of dependency is relatively low
    ondary cities and rural areas of                 compared with that of other coun-
    Uganda. There are provisions for shar-           tries reviewed in the ITU/CTO/
    ing of resources (e.g., high sites) but          InfoDev country case studies series
    apparently little enthusiasm to do so            (see
    on the part of either UTL or MTN. Also,          Uganda/index.htm). Indeed, the
    MTN recently launched an optical fi-             overall level of revenue from inter-
    bre network.                                     national markets was just over
                                                     ten per cent of UTL’s total revenue
    2.3.2 Rural access                               (Figure 2.3).
    Rural access is limited both by a lack
    of investment and by the fact that               There are a number of reasons why
    parts of the network were destroyed              UTL gains so little from international
    during the civil unrest of the 1970s             services:
    and 1980s. While the network in the
    area around Entebbe and Kampala has              ·     UTL’s overall inefficiency in col-
    benefited from World Bank funded in-                   lecting and retaining revenues.
    vestment, the rural network has gen-                   For instance, out of the
    erally been left to deteriorate. The one               US$ 75 million that was billed by
    exception to this is the Gulu project                  UTL in the last financial accounts,
    noted above. World Bank and Nordic                     some 40 per cent were lost as a
    Development Funds are available for                    provision for bad debt and a fur-
    a second phase of this project. How-                   ther 34 per cent were lost due to
    ever, it is likely that wireless commu-                “audit adjustments”.
    nication, both fixed and mobile, may
    provide a more viable prospect than              ·     Billing inefficiencies mean that
    copper-based solutions for rural areas.                much traffic goes unrecorded. For
    It would also be advisable to allow                    instance, UTL reports only
    other network operators than just UTL                  4.4 million minutes of traffic
    to bid to use the donor funds.                         coming from the US during 1998
                                                           whereas the FCC reports a total
    One major problem which UTL has                        of 10.6 million minutes from US
    suffered from is the mismatch be-                      carriers.

                                                  2. Information and communication technology status

                               Figure 2.3: UTL's billed and actual revenue, 1999

                                            For 13 months, ending 31 March 1999

                        Other, 4.9%
         Leased lines, 6.3%
         Telex, 4.6%
                                                                                   ph† uÃ
                                                                                                         Q… ‚‰v† v‚Ã
                                                                                   sy‚ Ã!$È
                                                                                                         s‚… ÃihqÃ
              D‡r … h‡
                                                                                                         qr i‡† Ã# È
              v‚hyà &È

                                           9‚€ r † ‡vpÃ
                                                                                   hqwˆ† ‡€ r ‡† Ã
                                           † r … ‰vpr † Ã

  U‚‡hyÃV† uÃ&#Ãivyyv‚
                                                               U‚‡hyÃV† uà        !Ãivyyv‚
  ÃVTÇ#(#À vyyv‚Ãhs‡r … Ãhˆqv‡Ãhqwˆ† ‡€ r ‡† Ã
                                                               ÃVTÇ&#%À vyyv‚

Source: UTL audit report and financial statements.

                              ·      UTL is a net payer to many de-                ·        There is strong evidence for refile
                                     veloped countries, including UK,                       of traffic via third countries. For
                                     Germany and Sweden. This liabil-                       instance, incoming traffic from
                                     ity is mainly due to transit                           Canada, a major refile hub, rose
                                     charges where UTL is paying well                       by 315 per cent in 1998 while
                                     above market rates, perhaps due                        traffic from the UK fell by 175 per
                                     to commercial naivety or perhaps                       cent. The fact that Uganda has
                                     due to the fact that it is locked                      traditionally been part of a
                                     into multi-year contracts.                             sender-keeps-all agreement with

                                            Figure 2.4: International traffic

                       Uganda's international traffic, 1990-98, and major traffic partners, 1998

Vthqh†Ãv‡yDž hssvp  , in minutes (thousands)
                                                                                                       Vthqh† À hw‚… Ã
20’000                                                                                                 v‡r… h‡v‚hyDž hssvpÃ

                            Incoming, to Uganda                     Japan                              ƒh… ‡r… †in thousands of
                                                                                                       minutes, 1998
15’000                                                         Sw itzerland
                                                                                                               Out, from Uganda
10’000                                                        South Africa
                                        Outgoing, to Uganda
                                                                                                               In, to Uganda
          1990 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998                              0       2’000     4’000       6’000      8’000     10’000

Note: Excludes traffic with neighbouring East African countries which is outside the accounting rate system.
Source: ITU/TeleGeography Inc "Direction of Traffic Database".

Uganda Case Study

                                     Table 2.3: Telecom market indicators for Uganda
                                                            Years ending 30 June

                               Unit    1990       1991          1992       1993      1994       1995      1996     1997     1998     1999

        Main telephone lines          27’886     28’405     30’047        20’770    30’449     38’972    47’927   54’074    56’919 57’091
        - Per 100 inhabitants             0.17     0.17          0.17       0.12      0.16       0.20      0.24     0.27      0.28    0.27
        % digital main lines 1/            ...     59.7         42.2        60.6      68.0       64.2      75.2     75.6     90.6     90.9
        Public payphones 1/ 2/             ...       ...         314        354       378        693       799     1’158     1’333   1’380
        Waiting list 1/ 3/            15’675     20’373         6’233      2’568     2’430      4’554     6’277    8’092     8’954   9’161
        Cellular mobile subscribers         —        —             —          —         —       1’747     4’000    5’000    30’000 56’358
        - Per 100 inhabitants               —        —             —          —         —        0.01      0.02     0.02      0.15    0.27
        TRAFFIC (Millions of minutes)
        Total national                     ...       ...           ...        ...       ...        ...   215.7    239.3     263.8       ...
        - Local                            ...       ...           ...        ...       ...        ...   168.0    187.6     195.7       ...
        - National long distance           ...       ...           ...        ...       ...        ...     47.7     51.7     68.1       ...
        International bothway 4/          6.8       7.1           8.5        9.6      13.9       17.2      19.5     20.7     24.3     25.2
        -International outgoing 4/        3.9       3.8           3.5        2.7       3.5        4.9       5.8      6.3       6.4     6.3
        - International incoming 4/        2.8      3.3           5.0        6.9      10.4       12.3      13.7     14.4      17.9    18.9
        Full-time telecom staff 5/     2’215      1’221         1’247      1’246     1’219      1’324     1’348    1’399     1’400   1’672
        Faults per 100 main lines
        per year                           ...       ...           ...     380.0    100.0       120.0    110.0      80.0     80.0       ...
        TELPHONE TARIFFS (National currency, including taxes)
        Connection                         ...       ...    21’250        21’250 125’000      138’000 138’000 170’000 170’000 170’000
        Monthly fee                        ...       ...         800        800      1’500      6’000     6’000   19’000    10’000 10’000
        3 minute local call (peak rate)    ...       ...          50         50        50        200       200        ...     225     225
        REVENUE (National currency, billions of Uganda shillings)
        Total telecom services revenue 6/12.4      21.5         33.4        32.8      40.7       47.8     45. 4     61.7     74.4    126.7
        - Telephone service revenue     11.1       20.4         31.5        31.5      37.2       37.2      43.9     25.8     28.5
        CAPITAL EXPENDITURE (National currency, billions of Uganda shillings)
        Annual telecom investment 7/ 3.0           11.6         14.2        11.8       9.2       22.4      30.4     26.6     22.3     80.3

        Source: Uganda Telecommunications Ltd. (UTL).
        Note: 1/ 1999 at August. 2/ UTL only. 3/ Excluding suppressed demand. 4/ Not including traffic with Kenya
        or Tanzania. UTL only. 5/ 1990 including postal staff. 1991-1997 telecom only staff of former Uganda Posts
        & Telecom Corporation. 1998 estimate of UTL staff. 1999 staff of UTL (1’430), CelTel (107) and MTN (125).
        6/ 1997-1999 includes UTL annualized revenue. 1998-99 includes estimates from mobile cellular services.
        7/ Including estimated investment in mobile cellular for 1998-99.

           neighbouring East African coun-                               per minute since 1998, which is
           tries makes it particularly vulner-                           close to the FCC’s benchmark
           able to sudden shifts in traffic.                             rate of 23 US cents per minute
                                                                         for low income countries. By con-
    ·      UTL’s net settlement from the                                 trast, Kenya’s settlement rate is
           United States in calendar                                     55 US cents per minute.
           year 1998 amounted to only
           US$ 2.3 million after accounting                     The lack of revenue gained from in-
           for transit fees. By comparison,                     ternational services is one reason why
           Kenya gained over US$ 13 mil-                        UTL has been unable to expand its
           lion. Uganda’s settlement rate                       network at a faster rate. Funds for
           with the US has been 25 US cents                     investment have been falling (in 1999,

              2. Information and communication technology status

for instance, only US$ 1.6 million was         2.5     Information Technology
invested by UTL, which is only one                     Sector
tenth as much as in previous years).
A further reason for the poor invest-          This section identifies organizations in-
ment record is the uncertainty sur-            volved in the Information Technology
rounding the stop-go privatization             (IT) sector, summarizes the computer
process.                                       hardware market, and examines
                                               Internet service provision. No single
2.4.2 IP Telephony                             government ministry or agency appears
                                               to have been designated the lead
ISPs are not allowed to provide Voice
                                               agency for IT in the country. Several
over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.
                                               are involved in IT-related areas with
VoIP is not illegal per se but ISPs are
                                               very little coordination. Government
not allowed to provide voice services,
                                               ministries with a role in IT include the
which remain the exclusive monopoly
                                               MWTC and MOI (yet ironically neither
of the two full-service operators, UTL
                                               even has a web site!). The former pro-
and MTN. The restriction against VoIP
                                               vides oversight for the telecommunica-
is outlined in the ISP license. Other
                                               tion and postal sectors, while the latter
voice-related services such as Fax Mail
                                               performs the same duty for the mass
are, however, allowed.
                                               media and broadcasting sectors. The
                                               Uganda       Investment       Authority
UTL’s lack of dependency on revenue
                                               (http://www. ugandainvest .com), the
from international services puts it in
                                               Uganda National Council for Science and
a relatively stronger position than
                                               Technology (http://www.uncst.,
other African PTOs with regard to the
                                               and the Institute of Computer Science
possible threats from IP Telephony.
                                               at Makerere University (http://www.
The main opportunity for IP Telephony
in countries such as Uganda is for ter-
                                               index.html) are also involved in IT.10
mination of incoming calls. The gap
between the official settlement rate
(25 US cents per minute) and the un-           IT user-based organizations in the coun-
official rate offered on telecom min-          try include the Uganda Computer Soci-
utes exchanges (19 US cents per                ety, which arranges the annual AITEC
minute is offered at          computer show each April. Another IT-
is relatively small compared with              related organization is the local chap-
Uganda’s neighbours (in Kenya, the             ter of the Internet Society (Uganda
gap is between 55 US cents official            ISOC) (http://www.isoc.or. ug).
and 34 US cents unofficial). Thus the
scope for price arbitrage is limited.          2.5.1 Computer market
                                               There are limited data on the Ugan-
On the other hand, because Uganda              dan computer market. There are sta-
is more open than its neighbours to            tistics available for the yearly value of
incoming Internet traffic (the VSAT            imports of office machines and auto-
data market is liberalized, for in-            matic data processing machines (see
stance) there is more scope for bring-         Table 2.4). There is no breakdown by
ing IP voice traffic in. The official          units or disaggregation of personal
situation is that only two operators,          computers (PCs). There is no domes-
UTL and MTN, are licensed to use IP            tic production of computers and lim-
Telephony though neither claims they           ited assembly and import duties have
are actually doing so (indeed, they            been reduced to zero. There are
appeared unaware when interviewed              roughly a dozen shops selling per-
that they were able to provide IP Te-          sonal computers and other office
lephony). No ISPs admit to using IP            equipment in Kampala. According to
Telephony, though they are ru-                 one vendor, there were around
moured to be franchisees for                   30’000 PCs sold in the country in
Net2Phone, a subsidiary of AT&T,               1999. It is widely believed that sales
who are active in the country. The             of PCs have increased sharply over
UCC has not taken an aggressive                the last few years as a result of
stance against IP Telephony, unlike            preparation for the Year 2000 prob-
regulators in other African countries.         lem and increased Internet activity.

Uganda Case Study

                             Table 2.4: Personal computer market in Uganda

                                                   1994      1995     1996       1997     1998    1999

       Office machines & ADP imports ($m)          19.5      13.8      11.5      11.2     18.4     n.a.
       Estimated PC sales (units)                  9’000     7’000    7’000      8’000   15’000   30’000
       Estimated stock of PCs                      15’000   24’000    31’000    38’000   45’000   60’000
       PCs per 100 inhabitants                     0.08      0.12      0.16      0.19     0.22     0.28

      Source: ITU estimates. Data on office machines and automatic data-processing machine imports are
      from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

    We “guesstimate” that there were               Internet Cafés, providing “drop in”
    around 60’000 PCs in the country at            Internet and e-mail services mainly to
    the end of 1999, based on rough deri-          foreign tourists, international staff on
    vations of import data and 1999 unit           short term assignment to Uganda and
    sales estimates. This results in a PC          local students. These Internet Cafés
    penetration of 0.28 per 100 people,            provide a useful public service and a
    placing Uganda roughly between                 valuable contribution to the growing
    neighbours Tanzania (0.19) and Kenya           awareness of the power and useful-
    (0.43). Almost ten per cent of Ugan-           ness of ICT. One factor that limits
    dan PCs are connected to the Internet.         Internet and e-mail usage in Uganda
                                                   is the limited availability and
    2.5.2 The Internet market                      affordability of computers; nonethe-
                                                   less, it is anticipated that Internet
    The history of the Internet in Uganda          services will experience very high
    dates back to April 1993 with refer-           growth in the near future.
    ences to a Fidonet node at Makerere
    University. Limited commercial e-mail          The number of Internet subscribers
    services became available in Au-               was around 4’100 at the end of 1999.
    gust 1994 and the first host using the         There have been no surveys regard-
    .ug (Uganda) domain name was de-               ing the number of Internet users by
    tected in July 1995. By October 1995,          either the national statistical agency
    several organizations were offering            or market research firms. Existing
    Internet connectivity. For example, the        estimates vary tremendously. A
    MUKLA (Makerere University Kampala)            March 1999 report pegged the number
    Internet Service was providing e-mail          of Internet users at 15’000.12 A news
    for students and faculty. In addition,         article cites a study by the United
    StarLight Communications and                   Nations Industrial Development Or-
    Infomail were providing Internet ac-           ganization (UNIDO) claiming there
    cess, while Transmail and InfomaNet            were 10’000 users in Kampala in Au-
    were providing e-mail services.                gust 1999 and that this figure had
                                                   risen to 40’000 by November 1999.13
    The 1997 Uganda Communications Act             A more probable figure, based on vari-
    introduced a licensing regime for              ous interviews and estimates of the
    Internet services. As of Febru-                number of users per subscription, sug-
    ary 2000, UCC had issued eight                 gests that there were around
    “Internet Access Service” licenses.            25’000 Internet users in Uganda at the
    However, only two can be considered            beginning of 2000. This estimate in-
    to be providing significant public             cludes regular and casual e-mail-only
    Internet and email services (see Ta-           users. Growth during 1999 appears to
    ble 2.5).11 Two small ISPs concentrate         have been high. One cyber-café, which
    on niche markets, while most licensed          opened in March 1999, claims to have
    ISPs have yet to begin operations.             doubled the number of PCs in the es-
    There are a growing number of                  tablishment in less than a year.

                                     2. Information and communication technology status

                                     Table 2.5: ISPs in Uganda

                                         Licensed ISPs, February 2000

    Name                                      Subscribers                  Web site

1   Infocom a, c                                  2’650          
2   Swift Global a, d                             1’360          
3   Wilken Afsat a                                 57            
4   Bushnet                                        25            
5   Spacenet a, b                                   -            
6   Computers & Multimedia a, b                     -            
7   Africa Online a, b                              -            
8   Sanyutel b                                      -


Note: a) Has license for international data gateway. b) Not operational at December 1999. c) Formed
from merger of Infomail and Starcom and purchased by MSI in October 2000. d) Purchased by Africa
online in March 2000.
Source: ITU adapted from UCC and ISP data.

                      The most significant development so              Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zim-
                      far for Uganda’s Internet market is the          babwe), received an Internet access
                      entry by the country’s existing tele-            service and international data gate-
                      communication operators as well as               way license in January 2000. In
                      foreign firms. An Internet business              March 2000, it announced that it had
                      plan has been prepared for UTL but it            purchased Uganda’s second largest
                      is unlikely it will be acted on until its        ISP, Swift Global.14 Meanwhile, MSI,
                      new strategic investors assume opera-            the parent of CelTel, purchased Ugan-
                      tional control of the company. The plan          da’s largest ISP, Infocom, in October
                      proposes that UTL become a retail ISP.           2000.15

                      Africa Online, the regional Internet             MTN Uganda appears to be taking a
                      service provider with operations in six          different course with plans to use wire-
                      countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana,                 less technology for providing Internet

                              Figure 2.5. Internet users in Uganda

     Estimated number of Internet users, 1995-1999 and classification of Internet users, March 1999

 @†‡v€h‡rqÁˆ€ir…ÂsÃD‡r…r‡Ãˆ†r…†ÃVthqh               9v†‡…viˆ‡v‚Ã‚sÃD‡r…r‡Ãˆ†r…†ÃVthqhÃHh…((

    25’000                                                        Govern-              Int’l orgs
                                                                   ment                (UN, WB,
    20’000                                                          5%                   etc.)
                                                               NGO /                    Academic
    10’000                                                    non-profit                   25%
                                                                25%               Business
             1995   1996   1997   1998     1999

Source: Left chart: ITU estimates. Right chart: Charles Musisi.

Uganda Case Study

                                 Table 2.6: ISP international connectivity

                                                      February 2000

       ISP             Bandwidth                            Note

       Infocom         256 kbps up / 512 kbps down          Two VSATs: 1st to Norway (, affiliated with
                       128 kbps full circuit                Telnor), 2nd to NSN (Washington State, USA). Paying
                                                            ~US$ 17’000 / month

       Afsat           64 kbps up / 256 kbps down           Plans to upgrade to 128Kb full circuit (February
                                                            2000). Downlink:

       SwiftUganda     256 kbps full circuit                VSAT via Intelsat / France Telecom

       SanyuTel        64 kbps full circuit

       BushNet         64 kbps full circuit                 Using MTN

       MTN             512 kbps full circuit                Via TeleGlobe (on Intelsat).

       AfricaOnline    128 kbps up / 256 kbps down          Leased from MTN

      Source: ITU adapted from ISP interviews and Charles Musisi.

    access to its existing subscribers.             coming Internet traffic is greater than
    Mobile phones are already being con-            outgoing—reflecting the fact that most
    nected to PCs and used to dial-in to            Ugandan surfers access content
    ISPs. However, the speed is presently           abroad—international connections are
    limited to 9.6 kbps. In order to get            asymmetric. National peering is non-
    around this limitation, MTN is explor-          existent.
    ing a number of options. One in-
    volves installing special software on           2.6     Mass media
    its network that would strip out the
    graphics that overwhelm the low                 2.6.1 Print
    connection speed. Another possibil-             According to UNESCO statistics, there
    ity is the introduction of Wireless             were two daily newspapers in 1996
    Application Protocol (WAP) that tai-            with a circulation of 40’000 readers.
    lors Internet access for mobile                 This implies that only two out of
    phones. A third option is the intro-            1’000 people read a newspaper in
    duction of General Packet Radio                 Uganda, far lower than radio or tele-
    Services (GPRS) that uses packet-               vision penetration. These statistics
    switching technology to achieve                 seem strange, considering that over
    higher transmission speeds.                     half the adult population is considered
                                                    literate. Affordability may be a factor,
    Uganda’s international Internet band-           with English-language dailies costing
    width has been doubling over the last           USh 600.
    few years. It was 1.2 Mb up and 1.7
    Mb down at February 2000 (see Table             The two leading daily English language
    2.6) compared to 640kb up/768 down              newspapers available in Kampala are
    in March 1999 and 384kb in April                The Monitor and The New Vision. They
    1998. ISPs are allowed to have their            both have web sites, http://
    own international connectivity pro-    and
    vided they have obtained the proper    respec-
    license. All major ISPs have their own          tively. The current days edition for
    international connectivity via VSAT.            both newspapers is published on the
    The other ISPs lease capacity from              web site for free; archives and sub-
    them or telecom operators. Since in-            scriptions are also available. The New

                                  2. Information and communication technology status

                   Vision also has links to sister daily and        pala, some of which have their own
                   weekly editions including one pub-               web sites.16 The Internet is serving
                   lished in the Luanda language.                   Ugandan’s love of music with audio
                                                                    streaming available on some of the
                   2.6.2 Broadcasting                               FM radio web sites and downloading
                                                                    music clips a common application in
                                              Kampala’s cyber cafés.

                   Radio is by far the most popular       
                   source of information and entertain-
                   ment with a reported 2.6 million ra-             There are nine TV stations across the
                   dio sets in the country. Radio is cheap          country with coverage available in
                   (receivers are relatively inexpensive            larger towns. Stations include govern-
                   compared to televisions, telephones              ment run Uganda TV, Sanyu TV, a re-
                   or computers and service does not                ligious station (Lighthouse Television,
                   require a subscription); accessible              LTV) and WBS. There are an estimated
                   (there is near nation-wide coverage              200’000 television households.
                   and neighbouring country broadcasts
                   can also be picked up); and easy                 Subscription television is available in
                   (state-owned Radio Uganda broad-                 Kampala through MultiChoice Africa,
                   casts in English as well as 28 other             a subsidiary of the South African MIH
                   local languages and radio listening              Group. There is both an analogue and
                   does not require literacy or other               digital service with 1’843 subscribers
                   skills). There are ten AM stations and           to the former and 2’110 to the latter
                   several private FM stations in Kam-              at March 1999.

                               Figure 2.6: Mass Media Online

                      The New Vision newspaper and Radio Simba web sites

Source: As captured June 2000 from and

Uganda Case Study

                                        Table 2.7: Broadcasting indicators

               Indicator                                Value                  Source

               Radio sets                             2’600’000                UNESCO 1997
               Radio sets per 1’000 inhabitants          130                   UNESCO 1997

               Television sets                         315’000                 UNESCO 1997
               Televisions per 1’000 inhabitants          16                   UNESCO 1997

               Television households                   200’000                 MultiChoice, March 1999
               Households with a television              4.5%

               Pay TV subscribers                       3’953                  MultiChoice, March 1999

         Source: ITU adapted from Sources shown.

         In October 2000, UTL signed an agreement with Alcatel for a GSM mobile network. The network is targeted
         for completion by December 2001. See “Uganda Telecom Limited and Alcatel sign Agreement” at http://
         In a curious conflict of interest, IFC also acted as the Ministry’s advisor for the privatization of UTL.
         Celtel was in the process of applying for an ISP license in February 2000.
         International Finance Corporation. “Uganda Privatizes Telecom Utility with IFC Help.” IFC Press Release.
         24 February 2000. Washington DC.
         See paper presented by Ant Brooks, on the role of the regulator in the Internet market, at ITU/CTO “African
         Internet and Telecoms Summit”, the Gambia, 5-9 June 2000, available on the ITU web site at
         For example all three have been examining national ICT policies.
         Although neither UTL or MTN Uganda currently provide ISP service, they are free to provide any
         telecommunication service without applying for a license.
         According to an e-mail sent from Charles Musisi to Steven G. Huter of the Network Start-up Research Centre
         (NSRC) entitled “The Internet in Uganda (3/99)”. See the NSRC site at
         Serugo Moses. “Cyber-café’s take off in Kampala.” The Monitor (Uganda). 23 February 2000. Page 22.
         Internet Moves: Africa Online Uganda Acquires Local Player”. Africa Online Press Release. 22 March 2000.
         See MSI. “MSI acquires leading Ugandan ISP”. Press Release. 24 October 2000.
         One constraint for FM radio in Uganda is that most vehicles cannot receive the full FM band. “Over 85% of
         vehicles in Uganda are Japanese reconditioned vehicles originally meant to stay in Japan. Therefore the
         radios in these reconditioned vehicles stop at 90MHz. Unlike the rest of the world, the Japanese FM spectrum
         is legally constrained to 76 - 90MHZ.” Source:

                                                       3. Internet strategy & policy

3. Internet strategy & policy

3.1    Role of incumbent telecom                that service quality is often poor; oth-
       operator in Internet                     ers have stated that the relationship
                                                and service is good.
UTL, the incumbent telecom operator
in Uganda, has thus far kept a very             UTL does provide a limited, proprietary
low Internet profile. It does not offer         data service with around ten clients
either retail or wholesale Internet             (using an X.25 network).
services nor, at the time of this re-
port, even have a web site. Nonethe-            3.2     Pricing structure for
less, it is indirectly involved in the                  Internet services
Internet through the provision of in-
coming telephone lines to ISPs and              Despite a competitive ISP market,
earns increasing revenues from dial-            Internet tariffs in Uganda are relatively
up Internet traffic.                            high. The standard tariff is US$ 50 per
                                                month for unlimited access (tariffs are
A major factor contributing to UTL’s            priced in US$). There are no other vari-
lack of Internet ambition has been its          ations other than full or e-mail-only
drawn out privatization process, which          access. Tariffs are comparable to East
has left a void in the company’s stra-          African countries but are high com-
tegic development. It has been reluc-           pared to other African countries. For
tant to make any major moves until              example, unlimited access in Botswana
the new owners have taken over man-             is only US$ 16 per month (see Ta-
agement control of the company. An              ble 3.1). The lack of a low cost entry-
Internet business plan has been pre-            level package effectively limits Internet
pared for UTL recommending that,                access to the well-off in Uganda.
among other things, it become a re-
tail ISP itself and directly provide            In addition to the ISP charge, dial-in
Internet services to the public. UTL is         users have to pay local telephone call
certainly well poised to play a bigger          charges, which for an average user,
role in the Internet. It has the only           exceeds the ISP charge. For example,
significant nationwide fixed-line net-          one estimate puts average Internet
work that it could leverage and up-             use in Uganda at about one hour a
grade to provide quality Internet               day or 30 hours a month. The tele-
services. It could also use its existing        phone      usage     charge    would
international voice backbone to de-             amount to US$ 93.10, US$ 55.86 or
velop an international data gateway.            US$ 31.03 respectively for peak, off-
On the minus side, UTL is weak in in-           peak or weekend use. Added to the
formation technology experience and             ISP charge, the total cost of dial-up
skills as well as customer focus. This          Internet access ranges from US$ 81 –
might be addressed by new manage-               US$ 143 per month depending on
ment as well as by linking up with an           peak or off-peak usage. At these
existing ISP in Uganda or a foreign one.        prices, the leased line offering of
However, this could conflict with plans         US$ 200 per month for unlimited ac-
to also provide mobile cellular service         cess (with no telephone usage charge
since it would be difficult—resource-           and 64 kbps bandwidth) begins to look
and staff-wise—to provide both ser-             attractive. To put Internet pricing in
vices successfully in a short time span.        perspective, the average GDP per
                                                capita in Uganda is US$ 287 (1998).
UTL has a mixed record among its                Internet access prices are between 3 -
current service to ISPs in providing            6 times more than GDP per capita so
telephone lines. Some ISPs complain             clearly out of reach of most of the
that they have been overcharged and             population.

Uganda Case Study

                                Table 3.1: Internet access prices in Africa

                            Unlimited monthly access, ISP charge, US$, February 2000

           Country           ISP                          Package           Connection       Subscription

           Uganda            Infocom                      Internet            $   50            $   50
           Kenya             NairobiNet                   Internet            $    16           $   128
           Tanzania          Internet Africa              Internet            $   100           $    50
           Burkina Faso      Onatel                                           $    23           $    23
           Zimbabwe          Internet Unlimited           Private Diamond                       $    39
           Botswana          Mega                         Unlimited           $    11           $    16

           E-mail only:
           Kenya             NairobiNet                   Email               $    16           $    24
           Tanzania          Cyber Twiga                  Email                                 $    36
           Uganda            Infocom                      Email               $   30            $   30

      Source: ITU adapted from ISP data.

    Further exasperating the situation is           can be issued. License types and fees
    that there is no “Internet-friendly”            vary depending on the type of service
    tariff program for the telephone us-            (see Table 3.2). There is some confu-
    age charge. There is no nation-wide             sion as to whether a license applica-
    dial prefix for Internet access mean-           tion fee is required. ISPs are also
    ing that users located outside an ISP’s         required to pay one per cent of their
    Point of Presence (POP) (basically the          annual revenue to UCC as a contribu-
    whole country outside Kampala) will             tion to the RCDF. It has been inferred
    incur long distance call charges. Us-           that, as a consequence, ISPs are
    ers within an ISP’s POP area pay the            underreporting their subscriber counts
    local call charge; there is no provision        in order to give the impression that
    for reduced tariffs for Internet access.        their revenues are less than expected.
                                                    Also, it is believed that some
    Since the majority of Ugandans can-             cybercafés are operating without li-
    not afford current Internet access              censes.
    prices or an individual personal com-
    puter, one alternative would be access          ISPs can provide their own interna-
    at public locations. But even here,             tional connectivity if they have an
    prices are beyond the reach of most             “International data gateway” license,
    inhabitants. For example, one cyber             which includes the right to provide
    café charges Ush 750 for five minutes           Internet access service. ISPs can
    of    Internet      access    (around           also provide domestic wireless leased
    US$ 0.50 or US$ 6 per hour). Given              lines to users. Some are doing this
    that around 90 per cent of the popu-            using microwave technology. This
    lation lives on less than US$ 2 per day,        requires a “2.4 GHz device and wire-
    Internet use is problematic.                    less spread spectrum” license
                                                    (US$ 2’000/ year). It is not clear
    3.3    Regulatory status of                     whether ISPs could provide “wired”
           Internet                                 leased lines. Some have complained
                                                    that existing service offerings from
    3.3.1 Internet Service Provider                 the existing fixed-line providers are
          (ISP) market                              limited or service is poor. For exam-
    The ISP market is competitive. It re-           ple, UTL does not seem able to pro-
    quires a license from UCC. There is             vide leased lines of sufficient
    no limit on the number of licenses that         bandwidth or in a timely matter. MTN

                                                                            3. Internet strategy & policy

                                    Table 3.2: Internet licenses

    Type                                        Number issued                   Amount

    Internet access services                           4                    US$ 2’000 / year
    International data gateway and
    Internet access service                            5                    US$ 4’000 / year
    Public Internet service (e.g., cybercafé)          3                     US$ 500 / year
    E-mail access service                              1                     US$ 500 / year

Source: ITU adapted from UCC information.

                     only provides primary rate interface                   school name, business name
                     ISDN as a high-speed option. This                      or non-profit organisation
                     poses problems for ISPs. First, they                   name
                     would be required to invest in ISDN
                     modems. Second, they often do not               The Internet Software Consortium re-
                     need all the virtual lines (30) that            ported 139 reachable hosts under the
                     come with the offering but must still           .ug ccTLD in its January 2000 survey.
                     pay for them. Third, the dial prefix for        The RIPE survey reported 180 reach-
                     MTN’s ISDN service is the same as its           able .ug hosts in December 1999. The
                     mobile service so users would be                growth of .ug hosts had been moder-
                     charged at a mobile rate.                       ate since 1998, suggesting that either
                                                                     most Ugandan organizations aware of
                     There is as yet no national peering for         the Internet have already registered
                     domestic Internet traffic.                      or they are using other TLDs (e.g.,
                                                                     “.com”, see Figure 3.1). It should be
                     3.3.2 Top level domain name                     noted that many, if not most web sites
                                                                     in Uganda, do not use the .ug domain
                     Charles Musisi of Uganda OnLine is the          name. Part of the reason is that the
                     administrator for the Uganda country            domain registration is not considered
                     code top level domain (ccTLD, (“.ug”).17        to be handled by a neutral party and
                     The following conditions apply:                 thus most ISPs prefer to register hosts
                                                                     using a generic TLD. Mr. Musisi
                     ·      Domains are registered at a rate         counters that he processes the regis-
                            of US$ 50 per annum (Febru-              trations in an orderly, transparent and
                            ary 2000)                                professional manner. He is concerned
                                                                     that if responsibility is transferred to
                     ·      The entity operating the domain          another party, it will not be handled
                            must be operating in Uganda              properly. Unlike other ccTLDs such as
                                                                     .nu, .tm, or .tv, there does not ap-
                     ·      The domain must be used within           pear to be as much “cachet” with .ug.
                            3 months or must be relinquished         Thus, there is little scope for commer-
                                                                     cializing the .ug ccTLD.
                     ·      Domains are available as
                            follows:                                 3.4    Universal access

                            - Top Level Domain-ug                    With less than one per cent of the
                            - Second Level -ac(academic),            population having a telephone line and
                              co (corporate),or (organi-             an even smaller percentage having
                              zation), go (government body)          Internet access, the diffusion of com-
                            - Third Level- chosen with               munication technology is clearly a
                               consultation of the                   major challenge for Uganda. The main
                               administrator, and can be a           government policy for improving ac-

Uganda Case Study

              Figure 3.1: Uganda's domain name                          ·      At the begin-
                                                                        ning of the year
                        Number of .ug hosts, 1995-2000                  2000, Uganda had
                                                                        around 2000 public
            C‚† ‡† Å r hpuhiyr ȁqr …Èt                             payphones, roughly
                                                                     split between UTL
                                                                        and MTN. The lat-
                                                                        ter has been active
                                                                        in putting in pay-
                                                                        phones, including
                                                                      most recently, a
                                                                      pre-fabricated shel-
                                                                      ter, housing a
                                                                        number of wall-
                                                                        mounted units (see
                                                    Figure 3.2). Both
                                                                        operators are sup-
                                                                        posed to meet
        Note: The .ug domain first became active in 1995.               payphone installa-
        Source: ITU adapted from                           tion targets. While
                                                                        payphones per se
                                                                        do not provide
    cess—apart from the inherent benefits                Internet access they can be a
    of introducing competition in order to               starting point. For example, MTN
    foster greater supply of infrastruc-                 mentioned that it may one day in-
    ture 18 —is to mandate a certain                     stall payphones with computer
    number of telephone lines and                        keyboards. Also, since an opera-
    payphones that the full license opera-               tor mans its payphone shelter,
    tors (UTL and MTN) must install. There               personal computers with Internet
    is a requirement to install a certain                access could be easily installed and
    number of each in specific localities                supervised.
    to enhance rural access but otherwise
    operators are free to choose where to          ·     The private sector has been ac-
    construct facilities. The targets are in             tive in providing public telecom
    line with the government’s policy to                 access. The public payphone and
    achieve a telephone density of two by                call centre market has been liber-
    2006. There are also plans to allow                  alized for several years and any-
    operators to draw on a planned rural                 one can enter the market by
    development fund to subsidize the in-                applying for a license. However, it
    stallation of networks in rural areas.               is worth noting that one major
    Supposedly, new companies could be                   public call centre operator,
    licensed to provide only rural service               Starcom, has been retreating from
    if the incumbents choose not to do so.               the market. Reasons cited for this
    There is no specific Internet compo-                 include greater availability of cel-
    nent in Uganda’s current universal                   lular handsets with pre-paid cards,
    access policy.                                       more public payphones, and the
                                                         growing number of cyber cafés
    The wisdom of the government’s line                  that are siphoning off ancillary call
    installation target policy is question-              centre services such as faxing.
    able. With an official waiting list of less          1999 witnessed an explosion of
    than 10’000 people, the demand for                   cyber cafés in Kampala. There
    individual telephone lines is theoreti-              were at least ten in operation by
    cally not there. Therefore it seems that             February 2000 (see Table 3.3).
    efforts should be concentrated on pro-               However, this phenomenon has yet
    viding telephones and Internet access                to reach other areas of the coun-
    in public locations. This is being pur-              try19. The Uganda Post Office has
    sued through government targets                      also introduced e-mail at its main
    mentioned earlier, private sector ini-               branch in Kampala, as well as two
    tiatives and donor assistance:                       other towns. It has been in con-

                                                      3. Internet strategy & policy

                         Figure 3.2: Public payphone shelter

                            MTN payphone shelter in Kampala

    Source: ITU.

       tact with potential private partners          in Uganda are now hooked-up to
       about extending connectivity and              the Internet through this project.
       public Internet access at its other           CelTel, one of the mobile opera-
       branches. Africa Online plans to              tors, has assisted in this endeav-
       install its “E-touch” public access           our even though it is not legally
       points at a number of locations.              required to contribute to public
                                                     access. Also of note are several
·      Foreign assistance has also been              foreign-funded IT projects at
       helpful for enhancing mass access             Makerere University that are ena-
       to the Internet. Uganda was the               bling greater networking connec-
       first pilot country for The World             tivity and Internet access for its
       Bank’s “WorLD” program (see Sec-              students. Several Multipurpose
       tion 4.3), which provides assist-             Community Telecentres have also
       ance to connect secondary schools             been installed in villages (see
       to the Internet. Around 20 schools            Box 3.1).

                          Table 3.3: Cybercafés in Kampala
                                     February 2000

     Internet café             Number of PCs

     Shell Wandegeya                 n.a.
     Shell Bugolobi                  n.a.
     Cyberworld Café                 22
     Web Café (Udyan House)           5
     Cyberdome Café                  16
     Post Office (UPL)                2
     Aptech                          n.a.
     Makerere University             n.a.
     German Cultural Society         n.a.
     Alliance Francaise              n.a.

     Source: ITU, UCC, The Monitor Newspaper.

Uganda Case Study

                             Box 3.1: The Ugandan Telecentre experience

      Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCTs)           A third MCT is located in Buwama, about
      have been hailed as a promising solution for        64 kilometres from Kampala. Like Nakaseke
      enhancing information and telecommunication         this is a rural area with most people engaged
      access in rural areas. An MCT is a kind of su-      in farming. Some are also involved in fishing
      per cyber café. In addition to Internet access,     since the area borders Lake Victoria. Like
      the MCT offers telephone service, faxing, pho-      Nabweru, this MCT is funded by IDRC and it
      tocopying and sometimes a library and audio-        started operations in June 1999. At the time
      visual facilities. MCTs should be supported and     of a September 1999 evaluation, the telephone
      sustained by the community and supply a cost-       line had not yet become operational so Internet
      based service, provide relevant content and in-     services were not available.
      formation and offer a venue for training. An
      MCT is typically located where there is limited     In addition to the three MCTs, there is Bunyoro
      communication access and where entrepre-            Community Telecentre, located at the Hoima
      neurs have not perceived a viable market op-        Teachers Resource Centre, about 200 kilome-
      portunity. Therefore, MCTs are traditionally        tres from Kampala. Uganda Connect helped to
      implemented with bi-lateral and multi-lateral       set this up, using recycled PCs and other do-
      assistance.                                         nated equipment. Uganda Connect has also
                                                          helped with a ‘mini-telecentre’ in Kihihi. Elec-
      While MCTs sound good in theory, in reality,        tricity is provided by solar panels and it is con-
      few have actually been installed around the         nected to the Internet by HF radio.
      world. One reason is the large cost not only of
      obtaining equipment but also of transporting        One of the ironies of MCTs is that there is a
      it to remote locations. With a large rural popu-    perception that they create the same sort of
      lation, Uganda has been an active test bed for      ‘digital divide’ that they were supposed to over-
      MCTs. It provides an interesting case because       come. For example, many of the inhabitants
      several evaluations have been made of the           of Nakaseke are illiterate farmers who do not
      MCTs that have been implemented.                    speak English. They perceive the MCT as some-
                                                          thing for the educated elite and the only serv-
      The first MCT was launched in March 1999. It        ices they could use are the telephone,
      is located in Nakaseke, a village about 50 kilo-    photocopier and video. 20 Another perception
      metres from Kampala. This MCT is a project of       is that the MCT is for government use. This is
      ITU, IDRC, UNESCO and several other bi-lat-         reinforced in the case of the Nabweru MCT,
      eral and local partners. The Nakaseke MCT has       which is situated in a sub-county administra-
      a library with around 3’000 books as well as        tive headquarters, with the police station and
      some newspapers and magazines, one televi-          local jail next door. This location has discour-
      sion and video-recorder, five computers, one        aged some potential users from going.
      printer, one scanner, two telephone lines, a fax
      machine and a photocopier. The telephone lines      Despite the inevitable teething pains these MCTs
      have been beset with problems with frequent         are experiencing, they could prove beneficial for
      failures. The power supply is also unreliable.      rural users. A survey of potential users found
      The most popular service is the photocopying        that the majority communicated with Kampala
      machine while the least used is the fax.            by travelling there personally or sending a mes-
                                                          sage through contacts. This is because the post
      The Nabweru MCT is funded by Canada’s IDRC.         is considered unreliable and takes too long and
      It is only around five kilometres from Kampala      telephones are scarce. The ability to use an MCT
      with farmers making up a smaller proportion         to make a call or send a fax or e-mail would
      of the potential user community than the other      save travel time and transportation costs. Ac-
      MCTs. Nabweru MCT was launched in May 1999.         cess to the Internet would also provide badly
      There is no library but otherwise it has the        needed information on farming techniques, lo-
      same facilities as the other MCTs. Like the other   cal markets and prices and health. Suggestions
      MCTs, there are problems with the telephone         for enhancing the value of MCTs include provid-
      line exasperated by common usage between            ing more relevant content in local languages and
      Internet, faxing and telephone calls. Only one      functionality for ‘broadcasting’ personal an-
      of the five computers is connected to the           nouncements such as births, weddings and fu-
      Internet.                                           nerals to radio stations in Kampala.

                                                                                 3. Internet strategy & policy

                                     Box Figure 3.1: Rural communications

         Q…v€h…’Àrh†Ã‚sÃp‚€€ˆvph‡v‚Ãir‡rrÃIhir…ˆÃ      Ds‚…€h‡v‚Ãƒ‚‡r‡vhyȆr…†Ãrrq

                                                               How to improve
          Telephone    1%                                      product/service

              Letter          13%                                opportunities

          Messenger            14%                                 Health care                   ! È

                                                                   Education /
              Travel                                46%                                                "'È
                                                                   New skills

     Note: Left chart: based on a 690 person sample in Nabweru and Buwama. Right chart: based on a
     1’000 person sample.
     Source: Kyabwe and Kibombo.


     Information about registering a host under the .ug domain is available at
     For example the number of telephone subscribers has doubled since the entry of MTN into the market.
     Equally important for enhancing access has been the impact of wireless technology and pre-paid cards. The
     latter has been particularly relevant for a cash-based economy where credit is hard to obtain and many
     would not qualify for subscription-based telecom services.
     One ‘up-country’ cyber café is The Source Café, the first Internet node outside Kampala.
     “There is among community people a perception that the centre is for the educated people…” See Mona
     Dahms. For the Educated People only…Reflections on a Visit to two Multipurpose Community Telecentres in

Uganda Case Study

    4. Sector absorption

    4.1    Government                             institutions that are online. All this
                                                  adds to a sense of confusion and
    With only a few exceptions, comput-           clearly suggests the need for one in-
    ers within government departments             tegrated, government-operated web
    and agencies are used for administra-         site.
    tive processes such as word process-
    ing or spread sheet analysis. Very few        Senior government officials have at-
    have Internet access and of those that        tributed the limited use of computers
    do, most are using it only for e-mail.        in various ministries to two major fac-
    Few government ministries or agen-            tors – the lack of awareness of the use
    cies are online (see Table 4.1). Of           of computers as information and com-
    those that are, less than a handful           munications tools, and the high price
    have their own web site with the rest         of computers and other Information
    using pages hosted by others. For             and Communication Technology (ICT)
    example, there is a web page hosted           components. The use of the few com-
    by Uganda Web Pages that claims to            puters available does not in general ad-
    be the web site for the Government            vance ICT skills – the PCs tend to be
    of Uganda (           used mechanically for the processes
    govern). However, this web page pro-          directly related to the functions re-
    vides limited information and does not        quired, and do not therefore contrib-
    provide links to the few government           ute towards improving computer
                                                                       literacy. For exam-
                                                                       ple, two reports
        Box 4.1: Uganda Government Web Presence                        received during in-
                                                                       terviews for this
      Of the top 20 Uganda web sites listed in a popular World         survey, indicated
      Wide Web search engine, only one was directly linked to a        that government-
      Government agency – the Privatization Unit within the            owned financial
      Ministry of Finance ( The second          and banking insti-
      most informative web site found was “Uganda–The pearl            tutions had devel-
      of Africa” ( This private web
                                                                       oped relatively
      site is linked to the Privatization Unit web site, and pro-
      vides most of the information and data. Other web sites
      covered tourism, culture and history, ecology, and ISP pub-      computer sys-
      licity. The only health related site, (http://www.tripprep       tems but, due to
      .com) seems to focus on health risks for visitors to Uganda.     security and other
                                                                       concerns, users
                                                                       were not encour-
                                                                       aged to develop
                                                                       computer skills
                                                                       other than those
                                                                       needed for imme-
                                                                       diate tasks. The
                                                                       government did
                                                                       not, therefore,
                                                                       contribute to-
                                                                       wards improving
                                                                       the computer lit-
                                                                       eracy levels of
                                                                       their own staff.

                                                                      A third important
                                                                      factor identified

                                                                                       4. Sector absorbtion

                           Table 4.1: Uganda government web sites

                                              June 2000

 National institutions                                     Web page / site

 Parliament of Uganda                            
 Government of Uganda                            
 Office of the Vice President                    
 Ministry of Education and Sports                
 Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Develop-
 ment (MFPED)
        Uganda Privatization Program: PERDS      
        Population Secretariat                   
 Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry
        Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS)
        National Environment Management Authority
 Ministry of Works, Housing and Communications   
 Uganda Police
       Training Planning Unit (TPU)              
 Uganda Revenue Authority (URA)                  
 Capital Markets Authority (CMA)                 
 Uganda Tourist Board (UTB)                      
 Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC)
       National AIDS Documentation and
       Information Centre (NADIC)                
 Bank of Uganda                                  
 Office of the Inspector General of Government   
 Interim Electoral Commission                    
 Uganda Investsment Authority                    

Source: ITU adapted from

                     during interviews is the relatively high        A fourth factor inhibiting the use of ICT
                     dependence on international donor               in governance is the poorly developed
                     assistance for the modernization of the         telecommunications infrastructure.
                     processes of governance, which often            Government processes must focus on
                     include relatively sophisticated ICT            the entire nation, but, with more than
                     based management systems.21 These               80 per cent of the population residing
                     development programs tend to focus              in rural areas with virtually no access
                     on the processes themselves, and the            to basic telecommunication services
                     information systems needed for their            and reliable electrical power, there is
                     operation. They tend to be driven by            little incentive to consider ICT as a
                     computer literate international con-            useful tool for improving the govern-
                     sultants, who do not have the time to           ment’s effectiveness.
                     develop internal champions to pro-
                     mote computer literacy in the govern-           Despite the many discouraging factors
                     ment departments and institutions               outlined above, there is a growing
                     concerned.                                      optimism in Uganda as a whole that

Uganda Case Study

    ICT processes will be introduced, and                          computers and telecommunica-
    that the process of governance will                            tion systems is duty-free.
    be improved through the use of mod-
    ern ICT tools. This growing optimism                      ·    Simple regulatory processes
    is demonstrated by the following de-                           for ICT development. The na-
    velopments:                                                    tional regulatory framework has
                                                                   been designed to encourage
    ·   Recognition of the impor-                                  growth of the ICT sector in an
        tance of ICT, and a clear vi-                              orderly manner. Where protec-
        sion for its progressive                                   tion of new entrants to the sec-
        introduction. The most dra-                                tor is required, such protection
        matic demonstration of this vi-                            is provided transparently with
        sion is the liberalization of the                          clearly defined time limits. New
        t e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s e c t o r,             entrants outside these controlled
        which has resulted in one of the                           sectors are encouraged through
        highest growth rates of access                             simple and rapid licensing appli-
        on the African continent. Access                           cation and approval systems.
        to basic telecommunication via
        both fixed and mobile services                        The following sections provide a brief
        has increased more than five-                         outline of the initiatives in specific
        fold since the start of sector lib-                   Government departments and institu-
        eralization in 1994. While fixed                      tions, for the development of ICT in-
        line telecommunication services                       frastructure and its utilization.
        have stagnated, the disposal of
        51 per cent of shares in UTL to                       4.1.1 Communications
        a foreign strategic investor con-
        sortium provides grounds for re-                      The Ministry of Works, Housing and
        newed optimism.                                       Communication would like to play a
                                                              lead role in the development of ICT
    ·   ICT Policy. The Hon. Minister of                      infrastructure and utilization. The
        Works, Housing and Communica-                         successes achieved to date are highly
        tions has further demonstrated                        significant but indications are that
        the national vision by outlining                      use of ICT technologies and proc-
        the Government’s plans to de-                         esses within the ministry itself are
        velop a clear ICT policy. The                         relatively underdeveloped. The few
        policy under consideration will                       computers installed in the ministry
        build on recent sector successes,                     are primarily used for administrative
        and encourage even more rapid                         tasks, although some have been
        growth of the whole ICT sector                        equipped with dial-up modems and
        over and beyond the telecommu-                        have e-mail connections through
        nications component currently in                      various ISPs. There was very little
        focus, through broad national                         evidence of the use of e-mail or the
        consultation and consensus                            Internet to conduct ministerial busi-
        building encompassing all na-                         ness communications. However, a
        tional stakeholders. This ITU                         strong desire for the development of
        study was welcomed by the Min-                        ICT within the ministry was ex-
        ister, who looked forward to in-                      pressed during interviews, and it is
        corporating the findings of the                       expected that the ministry will de-
        study in developing the planned                       velop its own ICT networks and proc-
        ICT policy.                                           esses as it formulates policy for this
    ·   Other Government support
        for ICT development. National                         The Ministry of Works, Housing and
        Government support for ICT                            Communications has access to ICT
        growth initiatives is clearly dem-                    knowledge through its control of gov-
        onstrated by the Government’s                         ernment stakes in UTL and the postal
        decision to eliminate all customs                     services operator, UPL. Although both
        tariffs on the importation of ICT                     these organizations have yet to de-
        equipment – the importation of                        velop full ICT skills, they are well

                                                                                          4. Sector absorbtion

                      placed to assist their parent ministry.          skills for use in postal operations.
                      UTL has valuable telecommunication               During interviews with UPL execu-
                      skills, as the incumbent fixed line tel-         tives, a high level of enthusiasm for
                      ecommunications network operator,                ICT was demonstrated. UPL has es-
                      but generally lacks computer and ad-             tablish its own web site (http://
                      vanced ICT networking skills. These              www.ugandapost. com). It has also
                      are likely to be provided in the short           embarked on the development of
                      term through its strategic equity part-          public e-mail and Internet services
                      ners. UTL has about 100 PCs, nearly              to supplement its postal services, on
                      all of which are used primarily for ad-          e-commerce to promote and market
                      ministrative purposes.                           its philatelic business, and on other
                                                                       ICT services such as mail and parcel
                      Since the separation of posts from               tracking and delivery control. UPL
                      telecommunication services, UPL has              has plans to install local and wide
                      focused much of its attention on de-             area networks for its internal and
                      veloping new skills for its own sur-             geographically diverse presence. UPL
                      vival. Prior to the separation, the              is therefore likely to develop useful ICT
                      forerunner of UPL depended largely               skills in the near future, which will not
                      on subsidies from the earnings of tel-           only improve its own effectiveness, but
                      ecommunication services. Part of this            may also contribute to the ICT knowl-
                      survival strategy is to develop ICT              edge base of its parent ministry.

                                         Box 4.2: Digital Posts

Postal services have traditionally formed part of the    office in Kampala as well as the towns of Soroti and
communications sector. In many countries this was        Jinja and plans to extend the service to all regional
institutionalized through a combined post and tele-      offices.22 UPL has also been in talks with ISPs about
communication operator, such as Uganda with the          a possible franchise agreement to provide public
Uganda Posts and Telecommunication Corporation.          Internet services from post offices. UPL could also
The wave of reform sweeping the telecommunica-           consider leveraging its 65’000 private letterboxes
tion sector over the last decade has instilled the       into a nationwide ‘virtual’ letterbox for all Ugan-
notion that the often loss-making, employee-             dans.
bloated, old-fashioned postal service should be
separated from telecommunications. Like many             Another advantage is parcel delivery. UPL has faced
countries, Uganda went through this so-called re-        considerable competition in this area with private
structuring exercise and separated posts and tel-        courier services allowed to operate in Uganda since
ecommunications in 1998.                                 1989. It estimates that it has around 40 per cent of
                                                         the market. One disadvantage for UPL is that, un-
A popular scenario envisaged the slow death of           like the private couriers, it has a universal service
national post offices. On the one hand, growing          obligation to try to ensure postal service availabil-
competition from dynamic courier services would          ity in all parts of the country. The advent of e-com-
eat into one of the few profit-making areas. On the      merce could be a boost for UPL as users increasingly
other hand, new electronic services such as fax and      turn to the Internet to order products and want
e-mail would erase the need for letters. However,        speedy delivery. Though business-to-consumer e-
the national postal service has some inherent ad-        commerce is practically non-existent in Uganda, this
vantages that it could exploit to transform itself       is bound to change. UPL is already gaining experi-
into a leading cyber player. Uganda Posts Limited        ence in this area through two fronts. On the one
(UPL) recognizes this and is beginning to embark         hand, it has implemented a package tracing facility
in a digital direction.                                  on its web site. On the other hand, UPL itself is
                                                         engaged in a crude form of e-commerce through
One advantage is that the post office is a regularly     the marketing of stamps on its web site.
visited public location. UPL probably has one of the
largest presences in the country with nine regional      It is ironic that in Uganda at least the postal sector
offices, 70 departmental offices and 236 sub post        seems to be a lot more aware and active in Internet
offices. UPL is well aware that its network of offices   activities than the telecom operators. However UPL
could be leveraged to provide public Internet serv-      must first overcome the public perception of long
ices—regional and departmental offices are               delays for postal delivery if it is to convince them
equipped with telephones—and indeed has started          of its readiness for the digital age.
to do so. It offers e-mail service at the main post

Uganda Case Study

    4.1.2 Finance                                   required to maximize the effective-
                                                    ness of ICT services.
    Although the Ministry of Finance was
    not directly included in the survey, key        Although direct interviews with the
    institutions within the ministry such           Privatization Unit within the Ministry
    as the Bureau of Statistics, and the            of Finance were not conducted, infor-
    Commercial Bank of Uganda, provided             mation provided indicates that this
    valuable information for the prepara-           unit has ICT capacity, which can con-
    tion of this report. The Ministry of Fi-        tribute well to the ICT knowledge base
    nance itself has virtually no ICT               of its parent ministry. The information
    presence besides a few autonomous               available, however, tends to suggest
    organizations within its area of respon-        that the ICT capacity within the Pri-
    sibility, such as the Bureau of Statis-         vatization Unit has been driven more
    tics and the Privatization Unit. The            by the needs and interests of the in-
    Ministry of Finance has a single main-          ternational donors providing technical
    frame computer used exclusively for             assistance to the unit, than by the
    pay-roll support of all public service          national members of the unit itself. A
    ministries, and a small number of               close examination of the Privatization
    stand-alone PCs for administrative and          Unit web site, http://www.perds.go.
    analytical processes needed for its             ug, tends to support this assumption.
    normal functions.                               Crucial information, such as the de-
                                                    scription of the privatization of the
    The largest user of ICT in the Ministry         telecommunication sector, is found in
    of Finance appears to be Uganda Com-            a linked private web site, which itself
    mercial Bank (UCB), which is being              contains minimal information.
    privatized. Dr. Ham-Mukasa Mulira
    heads UCB’s Management Information              4.1.3 The Bureau of Statistics
    Systems division and is also very ac-
    tive in the whole ICT sector of Uganda,         The Uganda Bureau of Statistics
    particularly in his capacity as an ex-          (UBOS) is the country’s national sta-
    ecutive of the Uganda Computer So-              tistical agency. It has been recently
    ciety. UCB has a clear policy and               established as an autonomous body
    development program for the deploy-             within the Ministry of Finance and in-
    ment of ICT for its own use. This pro-          herits all the functions and respon-
    gram has to date provided nearly                sibilities of the now defunct
    500 PCs and servers for its internal            Department of Statistics. UBOS, with
    functions, and is in the process of in-         technical assistance from the Gov-
    stalling these in all branches spread           ernment of Denmark and the World
    throughout the country. The first step          Bank, is in the process of modernis-
    of the development strategy consists            ing its processes through the intro-
    of automating all of the bank’s                 d u c t i o n o f I C T. P l a n s f o r t h e
    67 branches, followed by the intro-             construction of a local area network
    duction of internal networking, and             (LAN) are well advanced, but the
    finally the installation of a wide area         construction of a wide area network
    network to link all branches within             (WAN) linking the 45 district offices
    the country. At the time of the inter-          under its control is constrained by
    views, only a couple of the bank’s              the availability of electrical power and
    computers had Internet access. A                access to telecommunication services.
    major training component forms part             The Bureau uses one of the major pri-
    of the bank’s automation strategy,              vate ISPs in Uganda for its Internet
    however, this training is limited to            and e-mail access. UBOS compiles an
    specific banking processes, and will            array of data published in paper re-
    not contribute much to a broader ICT            ports that are not, however, easily ob-
    knowledge base in the near future.              tainable. It is imperative for UBOS to
    Professional computer operators                 establish a web site in order to ex-
    have, in general, developed high                pand access to the information. 23
    level skills in automated banking               Wider access to national statistics
    processes but remain largely illiter-           would enhance decision-making and
    ate in the broader computer skills              planning and enhance transparency.

                                                                                           4. Sector absorbtion

                    4.2     Health                                  ment between the Ministry of Health,
                                                                    UTL, and the ITU to link the training
                    Discussions with officials of the Minis-        hospital in Mulago with Mengo Hospi-
                    try of Health indicated a high level of         tal in Kampala. UTL is to provide ISDN
                    awareness of the benefits of ICT in the         connections between the two hospi-
                    health delivery processes. The Minis-           tals under an African Development
                    try has a program in progress aimed             Bank funded project.25
                    at creating awareness and sense of
                    urgency for the need for computer lit-          Ministry officials expressed concern
                    eracy and use of ICT products. While            over the huge awareness problem
                    efforts to automate many of the health          facing the ministry. At higher levels,
                    delivery processes started about six            it is estimated that 99 per cent
                    years ago, such efforts tended to be            awareness of the value of ICT in
                    disjointed and uncoordinated. The               health delivery exists, but less than
                    need for closer coordination and ra-            ten per cent have the skills or ac-
                    tionalization of projects and programs          cess to the equipment required. One
                    has been recognized, and a National             way that it is trying to remedy this
                    Telemedicine Committee has been es-             is through the provision of free com-
                    tablished to coordinate activities re-          puter lessons for staff. The Ministry
                    lated to telemedicine and to conduct            of Health recognizes the serious con-
                    sensitization workshops and training            sequences resulting from its inabil-
                    programs.                                       ity to spread ICT products for health
                                                                    d e l i ve r y s e r v i c e s t h r o u g h o u t
                    The Ministry of Health itself has about         Uganda. The sense of isolation by ru-
                    120 computers installed at its head-            ral based medical practitioners,
                    quarters for 200 staff but most of              which results in high levels of mo-
                    these are used for administrative func-         bility, and the inability to provide
                    tions only. There is an African Devel-          consultancy support to remote medi-
                    opment Bank project to link                     cal locations, is only one of the nega-
                    35 computers on a LAN. All district             tive consequences mentioned.
                    health offices have a computer and
                    many have a telephone; however                  As in other activities related to the
                    most PCs are used for administrative            delivery of social services, the poor
                    purposes and very few, if any, are net-         telecommunications and electrical in-
                    worked. The ministry itself does not            frastructures have been recognized as
                    yet have a web site. The greatest level         the greatest obstacles to sustainable
                    of Internet and e-mail connectivity can         development.
                    be found at the Makerere University
                    Medical School, where researchers,              4.3       Education
                    staff, and students have access to the
                    World Wide Web.24                               The educational system in Uganda can
                                                                    be broadly divided into three catego-
                    There is an ITU-assisted telemedicine           ries: primary (from age 6), second-
                    project comprising a three way agree-           ary (from age 13) and university.

                                         Box 4.3: NADIC

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is       ment projects for the control of AIDS. An impor-
a devastating health problem in Uganda. An esti-    tant weapon in the battle against AIDS is access
mated 1.5 million Ugandans are infected with the    to information about treatment and prevention.
AIDS virus and over half a million people have      The National AIDS Documentation and Informa-
died from the disease since 1982, dramatically      tion Centre (NADIC) was set up in 1995. Assist-
reducing life expectancy in the country. The gov-   ance from the French government has helped
ernment has taken tough steps to deal with the      NADIC to enhance its services by providing full
epidemic. It established the Uganda AIDS Com-       Internet connectivity and establishing a web pres-
mission (UAC) in 1992 to coordinate and imple-      ence (

Uganda Case Study

    Education is highly valued and there             (56 per cent) receive government
    is strong competition for admission to           funding for teacher salaries while pri-
    higher levels. However, as in many               vate secondary schools do not. In both
    developing countries, government re-             cases, parents must cover tuition and
    sources for schools and teachers are             other charges. This is a major reason
    insufficient and the low income of the           why enrolment levels are much lower
    majority of the population limits the            than for primary schools with only
    viability of private financing for edu-          around 12 per cent of secondary age
    cation. Nonetheless, major strides               children in school.
    have been made in school enrolment,
    particularly at the primary level. ICT           As with primary schools, computer
    applications such as distance educa-             education is not part of the standard
    tion, information retrieval and elec-            national program for secondary
    tronic delivery of textbooks could help          schools. Nevertheless, computers are
    overcome resource limitations.26 This            available in a few private schools.
    is not yet widely supported by the               There is a World Bank project for pro-
    government, particularly at lower lev-           viding Internet access in some sec-
    els of the educational system.27 One             ondary schools (see Box 4.4), as well
    major constraint is that roughly 60 per          as several smaller initiatives. Apart
    cent of schools do not have electric-            from these few undertakings, compu-
    ity. The Ministry of Education and               ter and Internet usage at the second-
    Sports (http://www.educationsector               ary level is very limited. is responsible for over-
    all policy in the sector. Significant op-        4.3.3 University
    erational responsibility has been
    devolved to the local community level.           Although Uganda has a dozen univer-
                                                     sities, the biggest by far is Makerere
    4.3.1 Primary                                    University (http://www.
                                                     Established in 1922, Kampala’s
    The majority of government funding               Makerere University is the oldest in
    for education is aimed at the primary            East Africa. It is also one of the re-
    level where there are around five mil-           gion’s largest with over 10’000 regis-
    lion students and 85’000 teachers.28             tered students and almost as many
    The Universal Primary Education (UPE)            non-registered. The University con-
    policy, which provides free primary              sists of eleven faculties and six insti-
    level education for up to four children          tutes.
    in each family, was launched in 1997.
    The policy has doubled the number of             Makerere has been involved with the
    students so that around 85 per cent              Internet since its inception in Uganda.
    of all primary age children now attend           One of the earliest references to the
    school. One concern is that UPE has              Internet in Uganda mentions the exist-
    affected the quality and effectiveness           ence of a Fidonet30 node at Makerere
    of primary education because of the              University as early as April 1993. By
    large increase in students. Also, while          October 1995, the MUKLA (Makerere
    enrolment levels have improved,                  University Kampala) Internet Service
    keeping students in school is a chal-            was providing e-mail for students and
    lenge (e.g., the grade 7 completion              faculty. Today the university has around
    rate is only 42 per cent). There is no           600 computers, some connected to Lo-
    policy for computer exposure during              cal Area Networks.31 There are over
    early schooling and, according to dis-           10’000 Internet users at Makerere, rep-
    cussions with staff from the Ministry            resenting roughly one third of all users
    of Education, computer usage at the              in Uganda. Paid Internet access is pro-
    primary level is minimal.                        vided from a number of access points
                                                     throughout the university. Internet ac-
    4.3.2 Secondary                                  cess is presently provided by one of the
                                                     ISPs at full tariffs.
    Uganda has almost 1’000 secondary
    schools with around 300’000 stu-                 The Makere University Institute of
    dents. 29 Public secondary schools               Computer Science was established in

                                                                                           4. Sector absorbtion

                                             Box 4.4: WorLD

In July 1996, Uganda became the first country to         and searching the Internet for information. The use
benefit from a World Bank project when three sec-        of the Internet to teach subjects has not been fully
ondary schools were provided with Internet con-          realized, partly due to a lack of trained staff as well
nectivity. The purpose was to introduce students         as the limited connectivity time (only one free hour
to computers and the Internet, use the Internet          a day). One result is that ‘off-line’ CDs such as
to teach students about different countries, carry       Microsoft Encarta are used quite extensively. The
out collaborative projects between schools inside        project has also created a cultural revolution of
and outside Uganda, and allow teachers to exchange       sorts, pitting traditional teaching methods against
experiences. This School-to-School Initiative was        interactivity and experimentation. For example, a
later transformed into a more ambitious Bank pro-        number of schools do not allow students to use the
gram known as World Links for Development                computer labs during class times because they feel
(WorLD) (            youngsters should concentrate on the traditional
english/html/uganda.htm). The WorLD objective is         national curriculum and focus on exam-oriented re-
to establish a network linking students and educa-       sults. On the other hand, teachers have been learn-
tors around the world. Some 320 schools in 15 de-        ing computer skills from students who are less
veloping countries are currently participating in        inhibited about grasping new technology.
WorLD. In Uganda, WorLD has expanded to
20 schools and has ambitious plans to connect all        The program has proven popular with many par-
the nation’s schools.                                    ents who feel it adds to the prestige of the school
                                                         and teaches important skills. The parents have been
The WorLD project in Uganda has been held back           willing to pay extra to cover the cost of operating
by infrastructure, human and social limitations.         and maintaining the computers. One irony is that
There are a limited number of computers per stu-         there has been significant digital exploration and
dent, restricted time for using the dial-up telephone,   collaboration with schools abroad yet very little in-
and electrical outages. Usage is primarily e-mail        teraction between the Ugandan schools.

                      1985. It offers a one-year program               over the many disjointed initiatives
                      leading to a postgraduate diploma.               past and present. ICT related initia-
                      This program has between 10-20 stu-              tives in progress include:
                      dents a year and has graduated
                      around 200. There are plans to de-               ·    The Makerere Wireless Imple-
                      velop both undergraduate and post-                    mentation Plan – a United States
                      graduate degree courses in Computer                   Agency for International Devel-
                      Science. Basic computer training is                   opment program to provide di-
                      also provided to all new students in                  rect Internet connectivity via
                      order to allow them to use the library                satellite (128Kbps up/1Mbps
                      computing facilities.                                 down) and build a broadband
                                                                            wireless backbone linking univer-
                      Makerere is one of the campuses of                    sity campuses and sites. This
                      the World Bank led African Virtual                    program aims to improve the uni-
                      University (AVU). There is a                          versity’s research capabilities, its
                      videoconference facility from which                   teaching functions, and its ad-
                      students can hear and see lecturers                   ministrative functions.
                      deliver classes from a studio. The
                      course is transmitted to AVU’s central           ·    An African Development Bank
                      uplink facilities in the United States                funded project to build a local
                      and then beamed by satellite to cen-                  area network linking most de-
                      tres all across Africa, which are                     partments of the university
                      equipped with a satellite dish needed                 through fibre optic cable. Imple-
                      to receive the signal.                                mentation of this project has
                                                                            been delayed for several years
                      Makerere University demonstrates one                  but recent activities have created
                      of the highest levels of ICT usage and                a new enthusiasm that may re-
                      awareness in Uganda. The Vice Chan-                   sult in its implementation.
                      cellor notes that the University plays
                      a leading role in the promotion of ICT           ·    NORAD, the Norwegian Develop-
                      usage but he also expressed concern                   ment Agency, has agreed to fund

Uganda Case Study

         a related project that will deliver        in that computer training is limited or
         many ICT components, including             non-existent at the primary and sec-
         the development of a modern                ondary school levels. However, effec-
         Management Information Sys-                tiveness and quality varies.
         tem, electronic library tools, etc.
                                                    Clearly Uganda has far to go to im-
    The university is aware of the need to          prove the level of computer training
    coordinate these initiatives closely so         and access in its educational system.
    as to avoid costly duplication and              This is critical if the country is to build
    wasted effort.                                  the expertise to successfully exploit
                                                    information technology for its devel-
    While Makerere University is well               opment needs. One often cited criti-
    placed to lead the nation in ICT knowl-         cism is that the educational system
    edge development, through the pro-              has failed to encourage software de-
    duction of ICT literate graduates,              velopment skills because creativity is
    researchers and teachers, there re-             not encouraged and the goal of many
    mains one major point of concern –              students is to be employable in tradi-
    the immense challenges of absorbing             tional areas.
    the expected output of Uganda’s UPE
    program. To meet this challenge, the            4.4     Business
    university thinks that an immense
    national effort must be made to en-             Ugandan businesses with Internet ac-
    sure that other national players can            cess primarily use it for communica-
    join the university in providing the            tions (e.g., e-mail, Internet faxing) or
    required tertiary education, and this           information retrieval. The use of the
    can only be realized through the wide-          Internet to carry out electronic com-
    spread use of ICT.                              merce (e-commerce) is at an early
                                                    stage. This is due to a combination of
    4.3.4 Other                                     limitations such as appropriate and
                                                    affordable communication facilities
    There are commercial institutes in              and services, the structure and nature
    Kampala providing training in basic             of the economy, awareness, expertise
    computer courses, primarily aimed at            and government encouragement:
    recent secondary school graduates or
    office workers who need to develop              ·     While the country has made im-
    basic office application skills. These                pressive progress in enhancing
    institutes provide a valuable service                 telephone access the last several

                                          Box 4.5: Training the trainers

       One of the most important functions of the educa-        hundreds of kilometres from Kampala to the
       tional system in the Information Age is to train stu-    Internet. It has also developed connectivity projects
       dents in ICT. This is a challenge for developing         using GSM mobile and microwave radio. It has been
       countries such as Uganda where there are hardly          developing ICT skills using donated personal com-
       any computers in schools and very few teachers           puters and a core of volunteer trainers. It starts
       with the requisite skills. Some in the development       students off on the basics, first teaching them typ-
       community argue that the resources required for          ing skills, then moving on to word processing and
       wiring and training developing countries at levels       spreadsheets before finally leading them to e-mail
       equivalent to developed ones are simply not avail-       and the World Wide Web. Advanced students be-
       able. They also argue that the top-down approach         come trainers themselves. At the end of the first
       and ambitious ICT projects proposed by most do-          year of this program, six original trainees were
       nors are not sustainable. Instead, solutions should      teaching 100 students. This experience has dem-
       be appropriate to the capacity of the country and        onstrated “how by very simple means—locally based
       driven by grass-roots enthusiasm. This is the ap-        Train the Trainer programs, which create a critical
       proach taken by Uganda Connect, which proposes           body of knowledge workers—a community within
       low-cost technological solutions and a ‘Train-the-       an emerging nation may use the Internet and In-
       Trainers’ program. Uganda Connect has demon-             formation Revolution to take the future into its own
       strated the use of HF radio to connect a rural area      hands.” 32

                                                                4. Sector absorbtion

    years, teledensity has not yet                 on its web site. The Post Office is
    reached one telephone per                      also using the Internet to pro-
    100 inhabitants. Furthermore,                  vide information about Ugandan
    most of the increase has come                  stamps, which has proven popu-
    as a result of mobile telephones,              lar with overseas philatelists.
    which are not currently ideally                Unfortunately, stamp orders have
    suited for developing e-com-                   to be processed off-line because
    merce applications. Where suit-                on-line credit card verification is
    able infrastructure is available,              not currently possible. Another
    the costs of Internet connection               irony is that most Ugandan web
    are steep for a poor nation. Busi-             sites advertising online shopping
    nesses desiring a web presence                 provide links to popular overseas
    would also have to factor in the               e-commerce sites rather than
    cost of web page development                   Ugandan ones.
    and hosting, and to have more
    impact, their own domain name             ·    For e-commerce to take off, gov-
    and high-speed connection.                     ernment commitment is neces-
                                                   sary. The government needs to
·   Uganda’s economy is not ideally                instill confidence by adopting an
    suited for e-commerce. It is pre-              appropriate legal framework.
    dominately rural-based and ag-                 Second, it must promote aware-
    ricultural products comprise the               ness through workshops, crea-
    main exports. Though privatiza-                tion of national e-commerce task
    tion is underway, a number of                  force, development of visible pi-
    large industries are state-owned               lot projects, etc.33 Few, if any, of
    and thus lack the incentive and                these steps are currently
    initiative to adopt new methods                underway.
    of doing business. Owners of
    small and medium sized service-           Despite these barriers, there is some
    oriented businesses lack informa-         rudimentary e-commerce activity in
    tion technology awareness and             the country aimed at providing static
    skills. Furthermore, the domes-           information for those with money
    tic market for electronic trading         (e.g., foreigners and overseas Ugan-
    is limited since the vast majority        dans). Several major newspapers and
    of Ugandans do not have Internet          radio stations are on-line with web
    access. Finally, the economy is           sites aimed at expatriate Ugandans
    predominately cash-based, credit          (see Section 2.6).34 They are begin-
    is dear and credit card ownership         ning to use banner advertising and
    and usage limited.                        have online classifieds for jobs and
                                              buying cars. Most government web
·   Awareness is a major barrier with         presence consists of pages with invest-
    many businesses and govern-               ment and economic information tar-
    ment officials unfamiliar or un-          geted at foreigners. These include
    convinced about the benefits of           sites such as the Uganda Privatization
    e-commerce. There are few ini-            Program, Uganda Investment Author-
    tiatives to spread e-commerce             ity, Uganda Exports Promotion Board,
    awareness such as workshops,              as well as the Ugandan embassy in
    task forces, etc.                         the United States.

·   The capacity for the development          With approximately 238’000 tourists
    of e-commerce applications is             contributing around 20 per cent of ex-
    limited. Electronic trading re-           port earnings in 1998, tourism is a
    quires sophisticated support, in-         promising e-commerce sector to aim at
    cluding interactive web sites,            foreigners. 35 There are a growing
    logistics and advertising. The            number of travel-related sites such as
    case of Uganda Posts is a relevant        the government Uganda Tourist Board
    example. It is keen to participate        as well as related Visit Uganda and
    in e-commerce and has imple-              Uganda Tourist Association web sites.
    mented a parcel tracking service          About a dozen hotels and lodges also

Uganda Case Study

       Figure 4.1 Uganda Tourist Board Web site                    members in informa-
                                                                   tion technology. 36
                                                                   There is also an
                                                                   Trade Point in Kampala
                                                                   tradepoint) aimed at
                                                                   assisting small and
                                                                   medium-sized busi-
                                                                   ness with trading op-
                                                                   portunities. Yet an-
                                                                   other        business
                                                                   directory is hosted by
                                                                   Uganda Home Pages
                                                                   While these initiatives
                                                                   are to be encouraged,
      Source:                              these sites tend to be
                                                                   slow, the web site
                                                                   names are not intuitive,
    have web sites or web pages; many are          company searches are awkward and in-
    listed on the Hotel and Catering Asso-         complete and many pages are not avail-
    ciation of Uganda web pages (http://           able. A well-designed, comprehensive                    mega-directory to businesses in Uganda
                                                   is sorely needed.
    The country’s largest conglomerate
    has also established a web presence.           The financial sector in Uganda has a lim-
    The Madhvani Group, with an annual             ited online presence. Only one commer-
    turnover of US$ 100 million and over           cial bank, Stanbic, has a web site (http:/
    13’000 employees, has its own web              / The nation’s
    site at The           largest bank, the Uganda Commercial
    online pages regroup and provide e-            Bank (UCB), has between 400-500 per-
    mail (and web site address where               sonal computers for its 1’500 staff, some
    available) for Madhvani’s diversified          with Internet access but it does not have
    holdings, including a sugar cane fac-          a web site or provide online banking.
    tory, tea plantation, brewery, safari          About half of its 67 branches through-
    lodge, construction company and tele-          out the country have PCs and LANs. It
    vision channel. Though static, this is         was mentioned that since all taxpayers
    a clean-looking site suggesting some           must file their returns through UCB,
    expertise. Indeed Madhvani owns an             which in turn passes them on to the
    information technology company                 Uganda Revenue Authority, there is
    (Software Applications Ltd.) through           scope to automate that process as a
    which it could develop e-commerce              business-to-business (B2B) e-com-
    applications.                                  merce pilot. There are a few ATMs in
                                                   Kampala (at Barclays Bank). Although
    Industry associations also have web            the country’s stock exchange, the
    pages containing business listings. The        Uganda Securities Exchange, has a
    Uganda Manufacturers Association               web site (http://www.ugandacapital
    (UMA) (     , trading is limited and
    uma), established in 1960, has a di-           only one stock is listed. The country’s
    rectory of its some 700 members on             central bank, the Bank of Uganda, has
    its web site. The Uganda National              a web site ( that
    Chamber of Commerce and Industry               provides daily foreign exchange rates,
    (UNCCI) also provides a trade direc-           economic reviews and a directory of
    tory on its web site (http://www.              Uganda’s financial institutions (totaling and                 26 commercial banks, credit institutions
    also claims to have a “Business and            and development banks at March 2000).
    Computer Center” where it trains its
                                                   One major drawback for e-commerce

                                                                                     4. Sector absorbtion

                      is the lack of a professional, popular        this has been “high jacked” by a North
                      and comprehensive portal. Though              American discount travel company.
                      there are a number of directories for         Few companies in Uganda have their
                      the country (see Table 4.2), the names        own web site; most use web pages
                      of these web sites would not be easy          hosted by ISPs. This is unfortunate
                      to guess. Perhaps the most obvious            since directories hosted by ISPs typi-
                      guess for the name of a Ugandan por-          cally list only their clients.
                      tal would be www. but

                                   Table 4.2: Destination Uganda

                              Selected web directories for Uganda, June 2000

 Uganda Home Pages       

 Uganda Web              

 Online Uganda Guide     

 Uganda Online           

 Orientation Uganda      

 Africa Online           

 Uganda Page             

 Index on Uganda         

 Africa South of the Sahara

 Uganda – The Pearl of Africa

Source: ITU.

Uganda Case Study

         One donor web site lists 43 ICT-related development projects for Uganda. Most relate to Canadian
         government support, with many more unlisted projects involving other multi-lateral and bi-lateral
         organizations. A major complaint is that there is little coordination (let alone a master directory) of all the
         ICT projects being implemented in Uganda. For a partial listing perform a search on Projects & Activities for
         Uganda on the Global Knowledge web site:
         Some 456 e-mails were sent from the Kampala post office during the month of December 1999 while
         207 were received. UPL charges Ush 1’000 for sending an e-mail and 500 for receiving one. This can be
         contrasted with the traditional postal tariffs which are Ush 300 for sending a national surface letter,
         Ush 400 for a national airmail letter (up to 20 grams) and Ush 600 for a ten gram letter to Europe. While
         postal tariffs are cheaper, they are not as reliable. Furthermore, e-mail prices are per e-mail; a large
         document sent via e-mail would not only cost less but would arrive sooner. Though e-mail contributed a
         minisule 0.1 per cent to UPL’s US$ 4 million of revenues, it is a start and an amount that should grow as the
         service becomes more widely known and available.
         There exists one web page describing the old Department of Statistics ( It
         is outdated and suggests that, sometimes, it is better to have no web presence than to have something
         The university library also hosts the local HealthNet node (
         “ITU brings telemedicine to Uganda”. Press Release. 11 August 2000.
         All of these applications are available in the country, albeit on a very limited scale. For instance, the African
         Virtual University at Makerere University is using distance learning. Several secondary schools are using the
         Internet to retrieve information for class assignments. An example of electronic school book delivery was
         cited about a rural school. School officials normally travel numerous hours by motorised transport to a large
         town to purchase textbooks. It was often the case that the materials were not available. With the installation
         of an Internet connection, the school is now able to download course materials from the web.
         This may be changing according to a news report that the Ministry of Sports and Education plans to sensitize
         schools on the use of the Internet. See .
         Much of the information on primary schools comes from a United States Agency for International
         Development (USAID) “Activity Data Sheet” accessed on 28 February 2000 from
         Data for secondary schools comes from World Bank. “World Links for Development: Case Study of Uganda.”
         Fidonet is a network for exchanging e-mails. For more information see
         As cited in “Makerere Wireless Implementation Plan” prepared by Federal Systems Integration and
         Management Center for USAID/Leland Initiative. March 1999.
         See Daniel Stern. “Keys to Human Resource Development: Capacity Building Through Train-the-Trainer
         Programs and Universal Access Through Affordable Wireless Technologies.”
    33 .
         The AITEC 2000 conference in Kampala did have an e-commerce workshop where the lack of credit facilities
         were cited as a main barrier. At the same conference, a pilot project to electronically store government
         records was proposed.
         Unlike tangible products, newspapers are “virtual” and can be easily disseminated. This is the conclusion of a
         Canadian-financed e-commerce project for East Africa: “But ‘virtual products’ such as newspapers produced
         on the Internet could easily reach the sizeable market of East Africans living abroad.” See Curt Labond.
         “Promoting Electronic Commerce in East Africa.” IDRC Reports. 28 June 1999.
         The tourist statistics are from the World Bank “World Development Indicators 2000”.
         UMA and UNCCI were jointly involved in a US$ 350’000 United National Industrial Development Organization
         (UNIDO) project to establish and information system to enhance their capability to promote investment and
         provide services for their members.
         Barclay’s has some information about its Ugandan operations hosted on the corporate web site at

                                                                                                      5. Conclusions

                  5. Conclusions

                  5.1      State of the Internet in                   ·      connectivity infrastructure: a
                           Uganda                                            measure based on international
                                                                             and intra-national backbone
                  The Mosaic Group (mosaic.unomaha                           bandwidth, exchange points, and
                  .edu/gdi.html) has developed a frame-                      last-mile access methods.
                  work for characterizing the state of the
                  Internet in a nation. They consider six             ·      organizational infrastructure: a
                  dimensions, each of which has five or-                     measure based on the state of
                  dinal values ranging from zero (non-                       the ISP industry and market con-
                  existent) to four (highly developed). The                  ditions.
                  dimensions are as follow:
                                                                      ·      sophistication of use: a measure
                  ·      pervasiveness: a measure based                      characterizing usage from con-
                         on users per capita and the de-                     ventional to highly sophisticated
                         gree to which non-technicians                       and driving innovation.
                         are using the Internet.
                                                                      Ugandan values for these dimensions
                  ·      geographic dispersion: a meas-               are shown in Figure 5.1.
                         ure of the concentration of the
                         Internet within a nation, from               Pervasiveness is rated as level 1,
                         none or a single city to nation-             Embryonic. There are an estimated
                         wide availability.                           25,000 users out of a population of
                                                                      almost 22 million for a user rate
                  ·      sectoral absorption: a measure               of 0.12%. This figure is just above
                         of the degree of utilization of the          level 1 but considering that many us-
                         Internet in the education, com-              ers are only using e-mail and con-
                         mercial, health care and public              c e n t ra t e d in   the    capital,
                         sectors.                                     pervasiveness is embryonic.

                         Figure 5.1: State of the Internet in Uganda

                                          February 2000

 Dimension                        Value                              D‡r…r‡ÃvÃVthqhÃ

 Pervasiveness                      1
 Geographic Dispersion              1              Sophisticationà              2Ã
                                                     of useà                                   dispersionÃ
 Sectoral Absorption                1                                           1Ã

 Connectivity Infrastructure       1.5                                          0Ã

 Organizational Infrastructure      3              Organizationalà                              SectoralÃ
 Sophistication of Use              1              Infrastructureà                             absorptionÃ

 TOTAL                             8.5                               Connectivity infrastructureÃ

Note: Values range from 0 (non-existent) to 4 (highly developed).
Source: ITU, based on methodology developed by the Mosaic Group.

Uganda Case Study

    Geographic Dispersion is rated at                 Internet exchange. Most access is via
    level 1, Single location. All ISPs are lo-        dial-up but demand for high-speed
    cated in the capital Kampala. There is            leased lines is growing from heavy us-
    no nationwide Internet dial prefix so             ers keen to avoid telephone usage
    calls to ISPs outside Kampala would               charges. There is some ISDN penetra-
    involve long distance charges.                    tion.

    Sectoral Absorption is rated at                   The Organizational Infrastructure
    level 1, Rare. The ranking is a func-             is at level 3, Competitive. There is free
    tion of the level of connectivity server          entry to the ISP market. ISPs must be
    ownership in business, government,                licensed (for which there is a fee) and
    health care and education, each of                contribute up to two per cent of an-
    which are rated as rare themselves.               nual revenue to a telecom development
    There is moderate connectivity at                 fund. While eight ISPs were licensed,
    Makerere University and a small                   only four were in operation and of
    amount of businesses and NGOs use                 those, only two have any significant
    leased lines. In sectors such as health           market presence. ISPs are allowed to
    and government, connectivity is rare              provide wireless leased lines to cus-
    and limited to dial-up access. Few or-            tomers (provided they hold the re-
    ganizations operate their own servers.            quired license). ISPs can establish their
                                                      own international links, again, provided
    The Connectivity Infrastructure is                they have a license for that activity.
    at level 1.5, between Thin and Ex-
    panded. There is a microwave national             Sophistication of Use is at level 1,
    backbone for the telephone network                Minimal. The most popular application
    that could be adapted for Internet use.           is e-mail. Most other use is restricted
    In addition, the two mobile operators             to searching the web and downloading
    are also building microwave networks.             software or music. There are few so-
    Bandwidth is limited to 64 kbps; it is a          phisticated web sites and e-commerce
    shame that resources are not com-                 is practically non-existent.
    bined to build a single, high-speed,
    fiber nationwide backbone. Interna-               This framework has been applied in
    tional connectivity, via a variety of             case and questionnaire studies in sev-
    VSAT and satellite links, is 1.2 Mbps             eral other nations, including some in
    up and 1.7 Mbs down. There is no                  the region. The dimension values for

                                   Table 5.1: Internet diffusion in Uganda

                           Various estimates, and by comparison with other African nations

                               Date         P          GD      SA        CI        OI      SU     Total   Source

      Uganda                   2-00         1           1       1        1.5       3       1       8.5
      Uganda                  12-99         2           1       2         1        3       2       11       Q
      Uganda                  12-99         1           2       1         1        3       1       9        Q
      Uganda                   9-98         1           1       1         1        0       2       6        Q
      Cameroon                12-99         3           2       1         1        3       2       12       Q
      Kenya                   12-99         2           1       2         1        3       2       11       Q
      Madagascar              12-99         2           2       1         2        2       2       11       Q

      Note: P: Pervaiseveness, GD: Geographic Dispersion, SA: Sectoral Absorption, CI: Connectivity Infra-
      structure, OI: Organizational Infrastructure, SU: Sophistication of Use. Values range from 0 (lowest) to 4
      Source: M: national case study, MOSAIC Group (; Q: unvalidated
      questionnaire result, Press, Larry, "Second Internet Diffusion Survey", OnTheInternet, Vol. 5, No. 6,
      November/December, 1999 (

                                                                                      5. Conclusions

other nations in the region are shown                      5.2.2 Universal access
in Table 5.1, for comparison with
Uganda.                                                    Very few Ugandans can afford to buy
                                                           ICT equipment and pay for related
5.2       Strategies and                                   service costs. If ICT is to be available
          recommendations                                  for the majority of the country’s citi-
                                                           zens, it must be through community
5.2.1 Coordination                                         access. Emphasis must therefore be
                                                           placed on developing public access
A number of ICT projects are taking                        points such as telecentres, cybercafés,
place with the assistance of bi-lat-                       etc. One way of doing this would be
eral38 and multi-lateral39 donor agen-                     to connect existing community loca-
cies and different sectors of Uganda’s                     tions such as post offices, schools,
government. These include projects                         health centres, etc. to the Internet.
to improve connectivity in schools40 ,                     Resources for this could come from
telemedicine, establishment of                             1) partnership with the private sector,
telecentres 41 , etc. It has also been                     2) license obligations for telecom op-
i n f e r r e d t h a t t h e r e a r e s e v e ral        erators, 3) bi-lateral and multi-lateral
projects covering the formulation of                       assistance and, 4) the Rural Telecom-
IT policy and strategy.42 There is no                      munication Development Fund.
central repository covering all these
projects and little, if any, coordi-                       1)   An example of private sector
nation among them. This is unfor-                               partnership might be an arrange-
tunate since there will undoubtedly                             ment between Uganda Post Lim-
be duplication, a lack of resource                              ited (UPL) and an Internet
sharing and no coordinated strat-                               Service Provider (ISP) to provide
egy. As a result, many of these                                 Internet access at village post
projects will operate in a vacuum                               offices.
and their long-term sustainability
is questionable.                                           2)   Current license obligations call
                                                                for certain telecommunication
It is recommended to create a task                              operators to provide a specific
force to coordinate ICT policy and                              number of telecommunication
strategy43. The task force would con-                           access lines as well as public tele-
sist of relevant government agencies                            phones. This might be made
as well as representatives from the                             more specific by targeting public
private sector. It is recommended                               locations. For example, telecom
that the task force itself be led by a                          operators could be obligated to
key ministry dealing with ICT, such                             provide access lines (either dial-
as the MWHC. Activities of this task                            up or high speed) to a certain
force would include:                                            number of post offices, schools,
                                                                libraries, hospitals or administra-
1)    Compilation of a database of IT-                          tive offices each year. The
      related projects;                                         payphone obligations might be
                                                                extended to include telecentres
2)    development of an inventory of                            or cybercafés.
      computer and Internet availabil-
      ity in government institutions;                      3)   As mentioned, there are a
                                                                number of ICT-related projects
3)    formulation of an ICT strategy                            with multi-lateral and bi-lateral
      and policy;                                               assistance agencies. These
                                                                projects should be coordinated so
4)    promotion of the strategy includ-                         that they align with the overall
      ing ensuring that it has Parlia-                          goal of enhancing universal ac-
      mentary approval; and,                                    cess to ICT.

5)    eventual implementation and re-                      4)   All licensed Telecom operators
      view of the strategy.                                     and ISPs are obligated to con-

Uganda Case Study

         tribute one per cent of their rev-         up Internet access to share revenues
         enues to a Rural Telecommuni-              derived from local call charges with
         cation Development Fund. This              the ISP. This would enable the ISP to
         fund will be used to subsidize             offer “free” Internet access, along the
         telecom operators in rural areas,          lines of the model pioneered by
         which have been designated as              Freeserve of the UK.46
         “uneconomic to serve” by UTL and
         MTN. The requirements might be             5.2.4 Naming
         extended to support for ISPs who           A private company, Uganda Online
         wish to establish telecentres or           (UOL), currently handles registration
         cybercafés in rural areas. All li-         for the .ug domain name. While there
         censed operators who contribute            is no reason to believe that UOL is not
         to the fund should be free to pro-         doing a good job, as a matter of prin-
         pose and compete for projects to           ciple, it would be better if administra-
         utilize the fund’s resources.              tion of the .ug domain name was
                                                    subject to a degree of regulatory su-
    Affordable access to Internet is im-            pervision and, if possible, competition.
    portant for enhancing access. There             This would also serve to avert possi-
    are already certain instances where             ble conflicts of interest. For that rea-
    telecommunication operators are pro-            son, it is proposed that a regulatory
    viding discounted or free service to            framework be established whereby
    educational establishments.44 These             registrars are licensed by the regula-
    schemes should be formalized and ex-            tor. Other firms may be encouraged
    tended. They could be promoted, for             to become registrars.
    instance, in the corporate marketing
    literature of the companies concerned.          5.2.5 Awareness and training
                                                    Although growing, awareness of the
    The lack of personal computers is a
                                                    Internet is still limited in Uganda. Ef-
    major barrier to Information Technol-
                                                    forts need to be made to promote the
    ogy usage in Uganda. The price of a
                                                    benefits of the Internet. This can be
    personal computer is unaffordable to
                                                    done by organizing seminars and trade
    the majority of citizens. It is also a
                                                    shows as well as the government it-
    major cost for many government or-
                                                    self providing more information on the
    ganizations and small businesses. One
                                                    Internet to encourage its use. Further-
    way of overcoming this deterrent is a
                                                    more, the ability to use the Internet
    program to receive contributions of
                                                    effectively depends on having the
    used computers from developed coun-
                                                    proper skills. Efforts should be made
    tries. Some development projects
                                                    to develop computer skills by includ-
    have contributed used computers to
                                                    ing this in school curricula. One way
    Uganda. This could be formalized into
                                                    of doing this would be to make a free
    a government-wide initiative with a
                                                    e-mail address and/or account avail-
    local institution handling the admin-
                                                    able to all school children.
    istrative details and coordinating dis-
                                                    5.2.6 Content
    5.2.3 Internet-friendly tariffing               Presently, most Internet use in Uganda
                                                    is to access information outside the
    Since all ISPs are currently located in
                                                    country. This is understandable con-
    Kampala, users outside the capital              sidering that most users are busi-
    must make expensive long-distance               nesses needing external information
    calls to access the Internet. It is rec-        and the fact that limited local infor-
    ommended that a nationwide dial code            mation is available. However, for the
    for Internet access be established              Internet to be relevant and sustain-
    whereby all Internet access is charged          able in Uganda, effort needs to be de-
    at local calling rates. All ISPs should         voted to developing local content.
    have equal access to calls to this dial         Prime areas where this might be done
    code. The regulator might also want             include putting local newspapers, tour-
    to encourage ISPs and telecom opera-            ist information, directories and busi-
    tors to collaborate by, for example,            nesses, sports information, schools
    requiring operators that provide dial-          and universities online.

                                                                            5. Conclusions

5.2.7 e-Government                             tem could be supplemented with
If the government is serious about ICT,        weather forecasts, farm input prices,
then it needs to set an example. There         etc. The project could be developed
is currently very little IT use in gov-        in conjunction with the establishment
ernment and few government web                 of public access centres in rural towns
sites. There needs to be a govern-             and funding might be sought from
ment-wide project to extend ICT and            donor agencies such as the Food and
to bring all ministries and key sub-           Agriculture Organization (FAO).48
units online. Government ministries
should “learn by doing”. By making the         In terms of a longer-term strategy, a
efforts to develop their own web sites         Uganda e-commerce committee
and Intranets, they will be better po-         should be created, as part of the ICT
sitioned to advise others.                     task force, bringing together govern-
                                               ment and industry to raise awareness,
5.2.8 e-Commerce                               develop policy and tackle legal and fi-
                                               nancial issues.
Electronic commerce (e-commerce)
needs to be supported and developed
                                               5.2.9 Peering, interconnection
so that Uganda can benefit from trade
                                                     and backbone
over the Internet. There are a variety
of e-commerce aspects that will re-            Currently, the majority of Uganda’s
quire different strategies. A promis-          Internet traffic is routed outside the
ing area that could deliver short-term         country, even if it is e-mail from one
results and provide a useful learning          citizen to another, or if it involves brows-
experience is Ugandan businesses               ing of local web sites. This situation is
“selling” to foreign customers.47 This         wasteful of resources, especially expen-
can be developed and supported by              sive international bandwidth. The
sensitizing Ugandan business about             Uganda Communications Act gives the
the potential, working with the local          regulator the responsibility “to regulate
financial and courier industry to de-          interconnection and access systems
velop fulfilment systems and promot-           between operators and users of tel-
ing external awareness by, for                 ecommunication systems”. The regula-
example, establishing a Uganda-wide            tor should take a proactive role in
e-commerce web site. Another prom-             encouraging local ISPs to interconnect
ising area is developing local content         and to peer their traffic locally. One way
for delivery to Ugandans abroad who            of doing this would be to invite a third
would be likely to have the requisite          party not directly involved in supplying
tools (personal computers, Internet            Internet access to establish a local ex-
access and credit cards) for access-           change point. Uganda ISOC has looked
ing and paying for this information,           into this issue and may be a possible
or making money transfers to family            candidate.
members in the home country.
                                               Telecom operators and ISPs should also
The country might also benefit from a          be encouraged to collaborate to build a
visible pilot project. Since most citi-        broadband national backbone. There is
zens do not have Internet access,              currently little cooperation and hence
short-term “business-to-Ugandan                significant duplication of narrowband
consumer” e-commerce would not                 infrastructure. Closer coordination could
have much impact. A more promising             result in one fibre optic transmission
area might be the development of an            network instead of multiple microwave
agricultural market information sys-           networks.
tem by the government. Agricultural
traders are currently using cell phones        Finally, the high cost of international
or e-mail to inquire about the price of        Internet connection is passed on in the
their products in Kampala, suggest-            form of higher end-user tariffs, dis-
ing that this could be a beneficial ap-        couraging Internet diffusion. The gov-
plication. Online pricing information          ernment may want to pursue this issue
would aid farmers in deciding whether          by encouraging greater regional con-
to spend the time and money to bring           nectivity and presenting its case at
their products to the market. The sys-         appropriate international fora.

Uganda Case Study

    5.2.10 Market research                           search groups. One goal would be to
    There is very little systematic informa-         provide this information online in or-
    tion on IT in Uganda. The national sta-          der to provide consumer choice and
    tistical agency, the Uganda Bureau of            to encourage investment in this sec-
    Statistics collects no information on            tor as well as to aid local and interna-
    ICT.49 Telecom operators and ISPs pro-           tional researchers in analyzing the role
    vide limited data; this data is not sys-         of ICT on development.
    tematically published or aggregated.
    Thus, there is only speculative data on,         5.2.11 Promoting dot coms
    for example, the number of Internet us-          A sustainable Ugandan Internet re-
    ers and the number of personal com-              quires a backbone of ICT companies
    puters in the country, let alone break           such as ISPs, off-shore software de-
    downs by user groups (e.g., business,            velopers, content producers, e-com-
    education, health, etc.).                        merce companies and others. These
                                                     ‘dot coms’ must be nurtured through
    In order to develop an effective ICT             favorable ICT policies. The govern-
    policy, it is imperative to have a reli-         ment has taken the right steps in this
    able and timely set of information. It           direction through zero tariffs on ICT
    is recommended to develop a data-                equipment and limited restrictions on
    base of various indicators such as               foreign investment. It needs to go fur-
    number of computers in different min-            ther, such as no or limited licensing
    istries, business, educational estab-            fees, tax breaks for ICT companies,
    lishments, etc. This activity could be           etc. It should also facilitate incubator
    carried out as a project between the             projects that aim to link budding do-
    UBOS, the MWHC, the UCC, telecom                 mestic ICT businesses with foreign
    operators, ISPs and local market re-             investors and multilateral institutions.

         For example of one such bi-lateral activity see the United States Agency for International Development
         (USAID) Leland Initiative activities for Uganda at
         The ITU itself is involved in telecentre and telemedicine projects.
         The World Bank has connected 10 schools as part of its World Links for Development Program. See
         For example see the Acacia Initiative which has developed two telecentres in Uganda
         For example apart from the MWHC request, there are supposedly similar projects between the World Bank
         and Institute of Computer Studies at Makerere University, a UNESCO project with the Council of Science and
         Technology and a Board of Investment project. At a grass roots level, both Uganda Connect and the Uganda
         ISOC have been sensitizing policy makers about the relevance of ICT.
         An ICT task force has recently been created in Uganda.
         For example one of the mobile operators, Celtel, provides one hour of free Internet access per day to
         selected secondary schools.
         The island of Anguilla in the Caribbean has such a program called “Anguilla Computes”. The Anguilla National
         Trust co-ordinates the program from the Anguilla end, working with a United States charity. One incentive for
         the donors is that they obtain a tax break. See
         An embryonic example is the Uganda Post web site where stamps are marketed to overseas collectors. See
         FAO considers information technology in agriculture of major importance. Dr. Louise Fresco, Assistant
         Director-General of the Agriculture Department of FAO, described agriculture in the 21st century as “an
         information-intensive sector of the global economy, moving away from an artisanal, extensive, traditional
         activity towards a more sophisticated, computerised sector … where access to information is a necessity and
         not a luxury.” See
         The latest Statistical Abstract does contain some limited telecommunication data provided by Uganda
         Telecom. It also contains import data on IT imports. However the latter data are by value and combine office
         machines and automatic data processing equipment. Thus it is impossible to determine for example the
         number of personal computers imported each year. Furthermore, the national census is likely to be delayed
         until at least 2002.

                                                    Persons and organizations met

    Persons and organizations met



Uganda Case Study

    Acronyms and Abbreviations

    ICT      Information and Communication Technology.
    IFC      International Finance Corporation. The private sector invest-
             ment arm of The World Bank group.
    ISDN     Integrated Service Digital Network. Provides either two or thirty
             64kbps virtual lines over a regular telephone line.
    ISP      Internet Service Provider.
    IT       Information Technology.
    MCT      Multipurpose Community Telecentre
    MOWHC    Ministry of Works, Housing and Communications. The ministry
             responsible for telecommunications.
    MTN      Mobile Telephone Networks Uganda. The holder of the Second
             National Operator license.
    RCDF     Rural Communications Development Fund.
    SNO      Second National Operator.
    UCC      Uganda Communications Commission. The telecommunication
    UG       The two letter Internation Standardization Organization (ISO)
             code for Uganda used for the Uganda domain name.
    UNCTAD   United Nations Conference for Trade and Development.
    UOL      Uganda On-Line. An Internet service company responsible for
             Uganda’s Internet domain name (.ug).
    UPL      Uganda Posts Limited.
    Ush      Uganda Shillings. The national currency in Uganda. The ex-
             change rate per one United States dollar at June 30 2000
             was 1’600.
    UTL      Uganda Telecom Ltd. The incumbent telecom operator.



Bureau of Statistics (Uganda). 1999 Statistical Abstract. July 1999.

Clifford Chance / Booz Allen & Hamilton. Case study of the impact of the
   changing international telecommunications environment on Uganda.
   February 1998, available at
Dahms, Mona. For the Educated People Only…Reflections on a Visit to two
  Multipurpose Community Telecentres in Uganda. 1999.
International Finance Corporation. Privatization of Uganda Telecom. Infor-
   mation Memorandum. November 1999.
Kyabwe, Samuel and Kibombo, Richard. Buwama and Nabweru Multipurpose
  Community Telecentres: Baseline Surveys in Uganda. September 1999.
Ringling, Fritz. Uganda Telecommunications Demand Forecast 1997 to 2006.
  Uganda Telecommunications Market Structure. September 1997.
SRI International. World Links for Development Case Study of Uganda.
Stern, Daniel. “Keys to Human Resource Development: Capacity Building
  Through Train-the-Trainer Programs and Universal Access Through Afford-
  able Wireless Technologies.” In Proceedings of the Internet Society 1999
Stern, Daniel. “Let the children be Fed First: How we are Overcoming the
  Hurdles in Providing Knowledge Networks for Schools in Uganda”. In
  Proceedings of the Internet Society 2000 Conference.
Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Coporation. Annual Report and
  Accounts. Various years.

Uganda Case Study

        Telecommunication tariffs

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                                                                              à             VTÇà                       V†uÃ

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à                           VTÇà            V†uà        VTÇà           V†uà           VTÇà            V†uà         VTÇà      V†uà       VTÇà       V†uà     VTÇà      V†uÃ

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                                                                   à                  8ryUryà                                8ryUryÃ
                                                                        Q…rQhvqÃ8h†uÃÉà                                   8‚‡…hp‡Ã
                                                                   Ã                   VTÇÃ                                   VTÇÃ

                            8‚rp‡v‚Ã                                               Ç!'à                                Ç!$Ã

                            9rƒ‚†v‡†ÃIDSà                                       à               à            à             Ç%Ã

                            IDÃ                                                  Ã               Ã            Ã             Ç#Ã

                            IÃ                                                    Ã               Ã            Ã             Ç!Ã

                            H‚‡uy’ƈi†p…vƒ‡v‚Ã                                     Ç!à                                Ç!Ã

                            G‚phyÃphyyÃQr…Ã                           8ryUryà         VUGà           HUIà         8ryUryà     VUGà     HUIÃ
                            @p‚‚€’à                                   Ç&à         Ç!"à          Ç"(à       Ç%à     Ç %à    Ç"Ã

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                            Qrhxà                                      Ç!à         Ç!(à          Ç"(à       Ç !à     Ç (à    Ç"Ã

        Note: February 2000. Inclusive of VAT except CelTel Contract package.


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