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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: November 28 2010 »

Rural telecommunication and broadband penetration in Uganda has risen to 14%, higher than in Nigeria and Ghana, because of the clarity of government policy and use of strict targets, a November research report indicates.

The study done in seven African countries to assess the progress made in extending telephony and broadband penetration across Africa graded Uganda highly.
 
"The Government and sector regulator have prioritised connecting the under-served, have clear policies and follow strict targets," said the research released this month. The survey, conducted by Informa Telecoms and Media, was dubbed "Rural Connectivity in Africa: Providing ICT Access to Rural Areas."

Despite Uganda's large rural population of 87%, mobile rural penetration is at 14%, while mobile market penetration is at 40%. For Nigeria, mobile rural penetration is at 9.5%.

Universal access is aimed at bridging the digital divide. But a third of respondents interviewed from Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda and the DRC say regulators have been ineffective.

Some telecom operators across Africa are disappointed with the policies of governments on the compulsory contribution to the rural communications funds, saying it could be just another cost of doing business in Africa.
 
All telecom firms in Uganda remit 1% of their gross profits to the Government, which is used to increase universal access.

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) boss, Patrick Mwesigwa, said so far 300 government secondary schools out of 600 have been provided with computers.

The target is to cover all government secondary schools by 2011.

Mwesigwa says the schools provide infrastructure and UCC provides the computers.

The rural communications development fund's three-pronged policy aimed at ensuring broader coverage, greater connectivity and more local content is cited as the reason for the success of the policy.

But in some countries the percentage of funds given to government is higher than 1% and yet operators feel it is not achieving its aim.

Ghana is praised for existence of a clear policy, while Mozambique and DRC are cited as not doing very well.

While telecom operators are facing declining profits arising from increasing competition, thus renewed pressures to increase revenues, reaching out to rural areas where the market remains under-penetrated will be of key strategic importance, the report cited on the sidelines of the AfricaCom conference in South Africa notes.

"There is also a greater focus on network expansion and improving market share. These are clear references to extending connectivity and engaging with a new set of consumers," read the report.

Competition has also been hailed for driving mobile penetration which is now more than 20% in most nations. In those countries, penetration remains low because of lack of penetration.

All telecom firms in Uganda remit 1% of the gross profits to the Government, which is used to increase universal access.

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) boss, Patrick Mwesigwa, said so far 300 government secondary schools have been provided with computers.

"The target is all the government secondary schools by 2011,"

There are about 600 schools across the country. In the programme, Mwesigwa says the schools provide infrastructure and UCC provides the computers.

The rural communications development fund's three pronged policy attack on ensuring broader coverage, greater connectivity and more local content is cited as the reason for the success of the policy.

But in some countries the percentage of funds given to government is higher than 1% and yet operators feel it is not achieving its aim.

(Source: New Vision / balancing-act Africa)
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