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Uganda’s telecommunication regulator forcing new investors to rent out infrastructure instead of laying new ones parallel to existing

by Milicent Atieno
Kenya Set To Lay 995 Miles Of Fibre Optic Cable By The End of 2015

Uganda, like a good number of countries in Africa, has a huge youthful population. And these folks love the internet; they need it to connect on social media, do their research for classes, some even take online classes, or work online. But generally, for the youth, there is a lot of entertainment, education, and hustle opportunities online.

Other than that, businesses and government operations across the developing world are getting digitized. Government services such as business registration, tax filing, among other things are done online. Businesses are also using online platforms such as websites and social media to connect with customers and other businesses.

Bottom line is, there is a growing demand for internet connection. That is not true just for Uganda, but most countries across Africa as well. Speaking of Uganda, the regulator of telecommunication industry in the country on Tuesday announced that new investors into the telecommunications service will have to rent capacity from the already existing fibre optic cables. Instead of laying their own parallel to the telecom infrastructure already existing.

The telecommunication sector in Uganda has attracted a lot of foreign investors in recent years, because of the high demand for internet connection among the youth. The fact that the country is relatively politically stable goes a long way in establishing investors’ confidence in investing in the country.

In a move to drive down the cost of internet, while avoiding duplication of infrastructure, the regulator is forcing players in the telecommunication industry to share infrastructure.

We need infrastructure sharing, if we already have cables in an area, don’t put there another one so that we don’t duplicate these things,” said Godfrey Mutabazi, the CEO of regulator Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), during an interview with Reuters.

However, investors looking to operate in a sparsely populated area where the infrastructure laid down is inadequate will be allowed to set up new infrastructure. This is the only exemption new investors will get in as far as setting up their own infrastructure is concerned.

Uganda currently has about 12,000 kilometers (7,456 miles) of fibre-optic cable laid down. That is according to the State’s official figures, and the government is not encouraging duplication of infrastructure where they already exist, yet those duplications could be used to reach underserved regions.

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