Uganda’s telecoms watchdog says new telecoms investors must share existing infrastructure rather than duplicating networks already in the ground. A report from Reuters cites Godfrey Mutabazi, CEO of regulator the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), as saying: ‘We need infrastructure sharing; if we already have cables in an area, don’t put another one there.’ He added, however, that exemptions will be made in rural areas where there is no existing backbone connectivity. Uganda has around 12,000km of fibre-optic network, shared between telcos such as MTN and Airtel, tech investors Google and Facebook, and the government’s own National Backbone Infrastructure.
Plans for network sharing have come in for criticism, however, with opponents saying it will hamper the development of the sector and create infrastructure monopolies. Kyle Spencer, executive director of the Uganda Internet Exchange Point (UIXP), told Reuters that bandwidth costs in Uganda had declined from USD5,000 per MB per second in 2009 to the current level of USD10 per MB per second. He stated: ‘The system is not broken and the reason that [price decline] has happened is because there has been significant amounts of competition in infrastructure and service. The market has worked.’