By Patrick Ndegwa, Business Sales Lead at SEACOM East Africa
During the last few years, Uganda has made significant strides in its digital transformation journey. More citizens are connecting to the Internet and using digital services, a trend that promotes inclusion, economic growth, and sustainable development. Meanwhile, businesses use forward-facing technologies, such as applications, artificial intelligence, and cloud-based computing, to help them be more productive and develop innovative products and services.
While there is still much to be achieved, there are indicators that Uganda is moving in the right direction. With the combined efforts of the public and private sectors, we can lay the foundations for a technological revolution and invest in infrastructure that establishes and facilitates the digital economy.
These five numbers demonstrate Uganda’s digital transformation and the technologies transforming businesses and people’s lives.
23.7 million broadband subscriptions
According to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), as of Q2 2022, there were 23.7 million broadband subscriptions, with a year-on-year growth rate of 8%. In terms of penetration, this means there are 55 Internet connections for every 100 citizens.
We cannot understate the value of connectivity when it comes to Africa’s digital transformation. Internet connectivity allows people and organisations to communicate and collaborate. It unlocks new tools and resources for enterprises to grow, improve productivity and performance, and unlock new markets and information about their customers. Internet access and other technical necessities allow for economic development and the realisation of a new, digital ecosystem.
40.7 million digital wallets
Considered the main driver of financial inclusion in Uganda, digital financial services form an essential part of everyday life as people use digital technologies and platforms to transfer and manage money. The result is that Uganda is home to 40.7 million digital wallets offered by both mobile network operators (MNO) and non-MNO payment service providers.
Africa accounts for 70% of the world’s mobile money value, and the continent has enjoyed double-digit growth in that regard during the last few years. The sector enables SMMEs and other enterprises with low-cost financial solutions while also improving customer financial access and helping position Uganda as a business-friendly environment.
In Q2 2022, Uganda reported an Internet traffic volume of 110,000 terabytes, with mobile and wireless connections accounting for most of the traffic. This volume was attributed to increased broadband usage as well as stagnation in traditional mobile voice traffic as more consumers pivoted to data-led consumption and communication platforms.
The increase in data consumption and traffic means people are using the Internet more. Businesses also enjoy access to more data and digital information, which translates into using data to lower costs, improve business efficiencies, and access new market and product development opportunities.
2000 Wi-Fi hotspots
In August 2022, the Ugandan government announced it will install 2000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. The installation forms part of the Uganda Digital Acceleration Programme and signals the country’s commitment to providing its citizens free, reliable Internet access.
Backed by a reliable and robust wired Internet network, wireless Internet access is a critical solution for users in remote and hard-to-reach areas. Wireless connectivity also enables people and businesses to have a backup solution in the event of network failures, ensuring they are always connected, and their online activity isn’t disrupted.
As part of the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and e-Government Infrastructure Project (NBI/EGI), Uganda aims to lay over 12,000 kilometres of optical fibre cables across the country to help add major towns and government departments to the network. A comprehensive rollout of fibre optic cables means citizens and organisations will enjoy faster network speeds and more reliable connectivity.
And this is just one number that reflects Uganda’s focus on fibre rollout. In addition to state efforts, many enterprises and service providers are investing in their own infrastructure and expanding Uganda’s national fibre footprint.
Combined with efforts to improve network reliability and the growth of cloud-based services, these numbers show that Uganda is working hard to digitally transform itself and empower people and businesses to participate in its blossoming digital economy.