Vodafone seeks a share of saturated Ugandan market

By Omondi Julius Odera, Kampala, Uganda

Uganda’s telecom sector is set for a bruising battle with entry of a new player, Vodafone Uganda which brings the total operators to nine – each of them targeting a share of  the country’s 19.5 telco users.

Vodafone Uganda commercially launched voice and 4G LTE high-speed data services on 9th February 2015. According to the operator, Vodafone’s 4G high-speed data services will initially be available in Kampala and Entebbe. The company plans to rapidly expand its 4G footprint to other towns in Uganda although customers outside Kampala & Entebbe will initially have access to 2G and in some areas 3G services.

Vodafone Uganda is part of the global telecoms group Vodafone which has mobile operations in 26 countries and partners with mobile networks in 54 more, including the largest footprint of 4G networks across Europe.

As internet usage grows in the country with statistics from UCC indicating over 8.5 million internet users registered in 2014, Vodafone Uganda is keen to tap into this steadily growing market. As part of its launch, Vodafone Uganda announced the launch of unlimited data plans which is targeted at the business and individual customers. Offering unlimited data plans for the consumer market is a first in the Ugandan market. Subscribers will pay UGX149 000 per month that is less than UGX5ooo per day monthly unlimited plan. This will enable them enjoy unlimited downloads, surfing and streaming at great speeds.

“We have listened to the consumer,” said Jackie Namara, Head of Marketing at Vodafone Uganda. “Customers say the entry price for mobile devices is too high and we have lowered it. They have requested for the option to pay a fixed daily, weekly or monthly price for data without worrying about running out of bundles and we have introduced the Unlimited Plan.”

Jackie further commented that, “We have not forgotten those users that want to keep using data bundles. They say it is unfair to lose data they’ve already paid for. This is why we are giving customers who purchase any of our monthly bundles starting from only UGX19,900 the option to carry forward unused data.

For voice customers, Vodafone Uganda has launched a new promotion dubbed ‘Talk is free on 0723’, guaranteeing free “on-net” Vodafone to Vodafone calls when they load airtime of UGX 3,000 or more. Voice customers can also choose their preferred Vodafone 0723 number on the Vodafone website at According to Tage Rasmussen, the acting Chief Executive Officer for Vodafone Uganda, “Vodafone services are designed for individual users, small-to-medium businesses, as well as large organizations that desire reliable and fast connections that are well priced. Our offers are in line with the Vodafone promise of delivering worry-free solutions to our customers,” said Tage, the acting CEO.

Vodafone Uganda’s 4G network operates in the 2.6 GHz range, delivering high capacity and reduced network congestion. In addition, the network technology adopted by Vodafone Uganda is able to optimize data downloads, giving a better and more reliable Internet experience for customers using data intensive services like video streaming.

Customers wishing to take up Vodafone Uganda’s 4G data services will need a compatible 4G device (USB modem, Mi-Fi, Indoor router, Smartphone or Tablet). Customers on existing 3G devices can also enjoy 4G services by using the Wi-Fi functionality on their devices to connect to a Vodafone Mi-Fi or Indoor router.

Vodafone Uganda’s entry into the already saturated market may spell bad news for the operators as it may escalate orthodox competition tendencies like price wars and promotions as every player may want to have a share of the limited cake. On the hand in their bid to retain and attract new subscribers, the users may end up being the biggest beneficiaries as they will have a wide variety of offers to choose from the competing operators. Vodafone Uganda is the ninth player in the telecom industry after Airtel, MTN, Warid, UTL, Smiles, K2, Smart and Orange Uganda.

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