Smart set to shake up Ugandan telecoms
By Omondi Julius Odera, Kampala, Uganda
Uganda’s telecoms industry is set to witness a new wave of price wars fuelled by the entry of a new player in the market offering the cheapest call rates.
Dubbed Smart Telecom, the new telco will be providing the cheapest call rates in Uganda per minute rate at UGX74. The telco, which is part of the Aga Khan Foundation for Development investment portfolio, enters into the market at a time when there are mergers and acquisitions. Last year, Warid was acquired by Airtel and recent reports indicate that France based Orange may soon be exiting the market.
The new firm is, however, upbeat about the market and is seems undisturbed by the current market trends and players’ moves. Group chief executive Abdoulatif Bouziani noted, “Many people are wondering why we are coming while others are leaving. We are coming on board with new approach and have long term goals.”
The officials from the telco insisted they will they will segment and diversify products in the business in order to keep above competition. The Telco launched on Sunday 17 March in Kampala after buying off Sure Telecom licence which had failed to attract subscribers since its launch over a year ago. Smart Telco will operate on the 074 code.
The new firm first came into the limelight by involving the public on social media forums and other media platforms through its popular campaign which was dubbed “Give Us a Name”. Currently, the firm’s activities and policies seems to be client driven and according to Bouziani, just the way the name was suggested by a survey response, the UGX74 per minute call rate was also reached at after the feedback they got from the would be subscribers in their over three month survey.
“Like we asked East Africans to give us a name, we also asked them what they wanted from us and they said they wanted to make calls without being under pressure of time that’s why we are offering subscribers an opportunity to make a call without minding at a clock ticking and pay only Shs74,” he explained. According to him, the firm will break even and that their revenues earnings will be based on clientele numbers and the longer call rates.
The average call rate in Uganda is about UGX300 with a mobile phone subscriber base of over 17 million. Smart Telco’s entry into the market pushes telco firm numbers in the country to seven including K2, Smile, MTN, Orange, Uganda Telecom and Airtel.