Ugandan mobile market leader MTN says the country’s wireless sector has reached saturation point which could lead to consolidation among the seven network operators. MTN Uganda’s CEO Brian Gouldie told Bloomberg: ‘A number of players aren’t investing because they are concerned about the viability … There will be consolidation.’ Gouldie says that the market would ideally support around three players. He added that mobile data services represent a major potential area for growth, as only 13% of the country’s population currently has access to the internet via a smartphone.
MTN Uganda recently secured a USD114 million syndicated credit facility to provide funds for further network expansion and upgrade work. The loan was arranged by Stanbic Bank Uganda, along with Citi, Standard Chartered and Barclays. Gouldie confirms that much of the new funding will be directed towards the rollout of 4G LTE infrastructure, telling Reuters that the firm plans to add between 150 and 250 booster stations to its network, which so far consists of 85 4G sites. Internet traffic is MTN Uganda’s fastest growing source of revenue, increasing 76% in the year to May 2016.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Uganda was home to around 19 million mobile users at the end of March 2016. MTN claims just over half of the overall market while the other network operators are Airtel, Uganda Telecom Ltd (UTL), Africell, Smart Telecom, Vodafone (Afrimax) and Smile Communications.