By Mark Kawalya
By the end of 2021, there was an increase of 1.3 million new mobile devices added to the telecom networks in Uganda. According to a report compiled by the Uganda Communications Commission, (UCC), these devices were added in the last three months of the year.
This increment is the highest recorded in a quarter in the last 12 months, according to the market performance report based on the period between October and December 2021. Additionally, the report indicates that a total of 34 million devices were connected to mobile networks by December 2021 and this includes mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.
During the last quarter, basic handsets (those that can only make calls and send text messages) dropped by more than 15,000, continuing the downwards trend that was captured in the three preceding quarters.
As the industry registered a drop in basic mobile phones from 3,949,752 in June 2021 to 3,532,047 in December 2021, the number of feature phones increased from 18,524,536 to 20,519,692 in the same period. Similarly, smartphones increased from 9,729,758 in June 2021 to 10,098,098 in December 2021.
However the continued withdrawal of basic handsets from the market has increased the waste disposal challenges that the country faces.
“The withdrawal of basic handsets terminals from networks more than ever puts pressure on industry actors to mainstream e-waste management policy makers as the market migrates to new data-centric technologies (3G, 4G, and hopefully 5G networks),” the report states. According to market research that was conducted by UCC, estimated collected electronic waste in Uganda is about 4.5 tonnes annually.
The last quarter registered a 1.05 million increase in last-mile voice connectivity subscriptions, a 4% quarter-on-quarter growth and a 9% growth in the 12 months period ending December 2021.
Similarly, there was an increase in both mobile and fixed subscriptions, with a growth from 29.1 million in September to 30.2 million in December 2021, the report indicates.
As for last-mile broadband connections, there was an increase in subscriptions from 22 million in September to 23 million in December 2021. This translates to one in every two Ugandans having a device with a broadband connection.