Communications in Uganda

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There are a number of systems of communication in Uganda, including a system of telephony, radio and television broadcasts, internet, mail, and several newspapers. The use of phones and the internet in Uganda has rapidly increased in the last few years.


East Africa and Uganda Protectorates 1912 five rupees stamp

1900 to 1970[edit]

The postal service of for the protectorates of British East Africa and Uganda was called East Africa and Uganda Protectorates, and operated from April 1, 1903 to July 22, 1920. From 1948 to 1977, postal service in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda was provided by the East African Posts and Telecommunications Corporation. With the decolonization of Africa, Uganda took over control of its postal system, although until 1961 stamps from the colonial postal system were being issued alongside Uganda's stamps.

1990s to present[edit]

The Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation had a monopoly over Uganda's communications sector until the Uganda Communications Act was enacted in 1997.[1] The act created the Uganda Communications Commission, the current regulator of communications in Uganda.[1]


A payphone is mounted on a bicycle in Kiwanja, Uganda.
A cell phone being charged from a car battery in Kiwanja, Uganda.

As of March 2010, the telephone communications system was described by the CIA factbook as "seriously inadequate" with "the number of main lines is still deficient", but with growing cell phone service and available email and internet.[2] As of 2004, Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL), Celtel and MTN Uganda Limited are the three telecommunications operators licensed by the Uganda Communications Commission.[1]

In 2008, there were 168,500 main telephone lines in use in Uganda, making Uganda one-hundred and twenty eighth in terms of countries having the most main telephone lines. In 2008, there were 8.555 million mobile telephones in use, making Uganda sixty eighth in terms of countries having the most mobile telephones in use.[2] This was an increase from 2006 when there were 108,600 main telephone lines in use in Uganda, and from 2007 when there were 4.195 million mobile telephones in use.[2]

As of March 2010, telephone traffic within is carried by wire. Microwave radi relay, and radiotelephone communication stations are used in domestic telecommunications as well, and fixed and mobile cellular systems are used for short range traffic.[2]

As of March 2010, international telephone communication is catered for by an Intelsat and an Inmarsat satellite earth station, along with analog links to Kenya and Tanzania. The international calling code is 256.[2]


The top-level domain for Uganda is ".ug".[2]

In 2012 Uganda had 32,683 Internet hosts (106th in the world). This is up from 6,757 hosts (131st in the world) in 2009.[2]

In 2012 Uganda had 4.9 million Internet users (60th in the world) or 14.7% of the population (156th in the world).[3][4] This is up from 2.5 million users in 2008 (64th in the world).[2]

In 2012, Uganda had 36,332 fixed broadband subscriptions (119th in the world) or 0.1% of the population (165th in the world)[3][5] and 2.5 million wireless broadband subscriptions (58th in the world) or 7.6% of the population (99th in the world).[6]

In 2006, Uganda had 18 Internet service providers. Mobile network operators provide internet services to Ugandans alongside fixed-line internet providers.

Orange Uganda (now bought by Africell[7]) was the first mobile operator to popularize mobile internet services when it joined the market in 2008. With a mixture of affordable USB internet dongles and reliable fast 3G Internet, Orange instantly captured the data market.

MTN Uganda, the largest mobile operator in Uganda later on joined the mobile internet market following decreasing revenues in Voice and SMS services. The carrier currently sells smartphones, USB dongles and Mi-Fis to increase of data usage of its network. Smart Telecom later on joined the market with super low data prices compared to the competition.[8] Vodafone Uganda is the latest entrant in the Telecom market in Uganda.[9]

Fixed-line internet providers have also increased in Uganda. These mainly offer premium dedicated internet services to business customers. Some of the notable ISPs for business include RokeTelecom, Onesolution, Smile Communication, Datanet, Liquid Telecom, Africa Online among others.[10] These offer high speed internet services for enterprise services with speeds ranging from 0.5Mbit/s to 5Mbit/s offering 4G LTE, Wimax, Fibre connectivity solutions.

In December 2015, Google launched its first wi-fi network in Kampala.[11]

Internet censorship and surveillance[edit]

In September 2009 the OpenNet Initiative found little or no evidence of Internet filtering in all four areas (political, social, conflict/security, and Internet tools) for which it tests.[12]

Though Uganda has made great technological strides in recent years, the country still faces a number of challenges in obtaining affordable, reliable Internet bandwidth. This, rather than a formal government-sponsored filtering regime, is the major obstacle to Internet access. Just prior to the presidential elections in February 2006, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) blocked the anti-government Web site RadioKatwe in the only internationally reported case of Internet filtering in Uganda to that date.[12]

During the 2016 parliamentary elections, the government ordered the blocking of social media for 72 hours (18-21 February), making services like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp unavailable.[13]

Postal Service[edit]

As of 2004, Uganda Post Limited was the only postal service licensed by the Uganda Communications Commission in Uganda.[1] As of 2010, Uganda Post Limited had changed its name to Posta Uganda.[14]

Radio and television[edit]

The Uganda Broadcasting Corporation is the public broadcasting station.

The 2004 Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Act stated that the UBC should be funded by the levying of a television licence fee.[15] Collection of a licence fee set at USh20,000 (around 8.40 or US$10.80) started in 2005.[15] However, collection was subsequently halted by President Yoweri Museveni.[15] There has since been pressure to reinstate the licence fee to maintain UBC's independence.[15]


Daily newspapers in Uganda include The New Vision, Sunday Vision, The Daily Monitor, The Sunday Monitor, The Red Pepper, The Sunday Pepper, The Uganda Observer, The East African. The East African Procurement News is a weekly business newspaper.

Blogs in Uganda[edit]

Blogs are increasingly being used as a medium of communication in Uganda. Affordable data rates, increasing internet penetration and free blogging platforms such as Wordpress and blogger are making internet users turn to blogging platforms to creatively express themselves, comment on current affairs, inform the public among other reasons.

Ugandan-based blog curator and aggregator Storipot has over 300 Ugandan blogs as January 2015.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Kyeyune, H. (2004, May 21). CASE STUDY: UGANDA (Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics Radiocommunications Unit New Radiocommunication Technologies for Information and Communication Technologies in Developing African Countries). Retrieved December 2, 2005, from
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h CIA. (2010, March 18) Uganda. Retrieved April 3, 2010, from
  3. ^ a b Calculated using penetration rate and population data from "Countries and Areas Ranked by Population: 2012", Population data, International Programs, U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2012", International Telecommunications Union (Geneva), June 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  6. ^ "Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  7. ^ Odeke, Onyait (15 November 2014). "Goodbye Orange: Hello Africell - It's final. The sale has been concluded - Dignited". Dignited. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  8. ^ Smart Telecom Uganda internet bundles show it’s the new Warid for data services
  9. ^ Vodafone Uganda joins the stiff battle for a slice of the telecom pie
  10. ^ 5 Worthwhile Ugandan Internet Service providers (ISP) for Small business owners
  11. ^ "Google launches wi-fi network in Kampala, Uganda". 4 December 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "ONI Country Profile: Uganda", OpenNet Initiative, September 30, 2009
  13. ^ "Im Inneren einer Internet-Sperrung (Interview)". Statusbericht zur Internetgesundheit. January 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  14. ^ "Uganda Posts Ltd", Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, 4 April 2010.
  15. ^ a b c d Issac Mufumba, "Uganda: Scribes Call for Reconsideration of TV Fees", The Monitor, 7 August 2006. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  16. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]