Private companies play a lead role in developing Uganda’s ICT infrastructure, often in partnership with the government. The National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA), the Ugandan government’s technology development agency, has laid over 3,000 km (1,864 miles) of fiber optic cable around the country to connect the second tier of administrative units (sub-counties) within each district. Google (through its C-Squared entity) has laid over 1,000 km (621 miles) of fiber optic cable in the Kampala metro area since 2015. Facebook (through its partnership with Airtel Uganda) has laid over 800 km (497 miles) of fiber optic cable throughout Uganda, primarily in the northern town of Gulu. MTN Uganda, the largest telecom company in Uganda has also laid about 6,000 km (3,728 miles) of fiber optic cable. Multiple wholesale internet providers offer access through fiber optic cables into Uganda. From 2017 to July 2023, the cost of commercial internet (25 Mbps+/mo) service dropped from an average of approximately $300 to $30. Uganda imposes 12% excise duty on each internet data service purchase, deducted when a purchase is made. In May 2021, Raxio, a company owned by U.S. investors, opened its $15 million tier III data center – Uganda’s first tier III center – in the Kampala Industrial and Business Park. Raxio plans to build a second data center in the Free Zone set up near the Entebbe International Airport. Despite the rapid growth of the ICT sector, Facebook remains banned in Uganda since January 2021 elections.
Data Centers and Content Delivery Nodes: Growth in Uganda’s internet availability has pushed up demand for local data services, data security, and streamlined content delivery, including tier-rated data centers (currently only one Tier-III data center exists in Uganda), content partnerships, and data security expertise.
Complementary Technologies: Due to increased internet access in all regions throughout Uganda, the use of complementary technologies is growing. This includes the use of “Internet of Things” devices and services, and industrial internet-connected devices. Internet-connected devices and services supporting the agriculture sector have particularly significant growth potential in Uganda.
Exporting telecommunication hardware offers the best prospects within the sector. The following products are in high demand in Uganda: cellular and wireless telephone systems, data transmission equipment, fiber optic equipment, trunked mobile phone systems, switches and routers, wireless access equipment, construction of ICT/BPO park, voice over internet telephone, VSAT, computers, and peripherals.