A big enabler for digital Financial inclusion is access to mobile phones and by June last year, 39 people out of every 100 Ugandans had no access to a communication line signaling to low mobile penetration in the country.
Uganda has one of the least number of people with access to a mobile phone compared to her East African counterparts.
Experts peg the low penetration to the high cost of access to mobile devices which according to Jumia Uganda, averages around Shs350,000 for smartphones.
However, by September, the number of Ugandans without access to a phone had gone down to 36 out of every 100 Ugandans partly because one million new devices were connected to the network.
The connectivity, according to the sector regulator was powered by mobile network operator (MNO) and device importer partnerships.
“The growth in network connected devices yet again remains driven by MNO-device importer partnerships in Uganda. The growth in network connected devices is in sync with global gadget shipments by the major vendors in the months July-September 2020,” the regulator explains
The success of MNO-device importer partnerships is premised on the low-cost devices supplied by the parties.
Telecom giant MTN Uganda partnered with Chinese manufacturer Techno to launch numerous phones that have driven connectivity, communication, and financial inclusion.
To address the element of affordability, the telecom company went even further to launch the Kamunye feature phone with vast internet abilities priced at only Shs69,000.
Aware of the strain in making lump sum payments for smartphones, MTN ushered device financing into the country.
The device financing scheme was piloted through an MTN branded phone that was called Kabode. The pilot went very well pointing to the need in the community that MTN is now covering.
Just recently, the telecom company rolled out a new campaign in partnership with solar company MKopa Solar. In the partnership, MTN Uganda is rolling out mid-range Samsung phones that are the envy of many.
For as low as shs51, 000 per month or shs2300 per day, anybody can now get these very high-end Samsung devices and connect to the world.
Through the company’s installment payment plan introduced last year, more people are expected to own phones.
Currently, there are currently 6.96 million smartphones and 17million feature phones in the country.
Ms Yolanda Cuba, Mtn group vice president for Southern and Eastern Mtn markets says the telecom is dedicating focus to increasing accessibility of devices in the country.
“Mobile penetration is below 70 per cent and in other countries it is over 100 percent. There is need to look into how we can get the penetration to over 100 per cent to ensure more people are connected. On the data front, there is a lot of potential because it is around 30 per cent.
“There is evidence that more people are using our services, however there are not so many data enabled devices and that is where we are going to focus. How do we enable people have access to this infrastructure?” she noted.