As a means of attracting investment in Digital services, Uganda is launching a programme to increase the use of smartphones.
Under the project, homesteads will receive Smartphones from the government and members will be instructed on how to use online applications. Additionally, they will have access to online content relevant to their interests, such as mentorship for SMEs and women’s saving clubs, adult education, farming, and internet skill development.
The government of Uganda has granted the contract to Ugandan cell phone manufacturer Simi Mobile to provide Smart Phones for the trial.
The executive director of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Irene Sewenkambo stated that they have been running a pilot programme where they give each homestead, at the base of the pyramid, one device. She added that people can share a single connected device and then they begin teaching them how to use the various applications with content that pertains to them.
According to her, the government is testing a model that may combine the country’s small but growing market for tech services.
Because of the high cost of smartphones and data, Uganda’s expected technological revolution has been delayed.
In preparation for this project, Uganda Communications has already formed partnerships with content providers from a variety of industries such as the lobby for farmers in Uganda, and the Uganda Farmers’ Federation.
At the Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit, organised by the IT company HiPipo and examining the potential of ICT in business, Sewankambo made the statement that they demonstrate how to use this pre-existing information for them so they can test whether doing so will encourage and motivate them to use or even own devices in the long term.
The cheapest smartphone in Uganda costs roughly Ush220,000 ($58), but due to the country’s continuous poverty and the existence of areas where people cannot survive on a dollar a day, the devices are considered a luxury.
According to official data from the regulator, the number of smartphones registered in Uganda increased rapidly, rising from 4.57 million in the first quarter of 2018 to over 10 million by the first quarter of 2022. As of right now, 48 million people are thought to live in Uganda.
Sewankambo said that they need to grow their subscriber base because in Uganda they have a very small subscriber base. They have grown much these years, but still, they have only a few subscribers.
Sewankambo claims that the government and other interested parties are debating ways to lower taxes on particular smartphones, which will lower their market price. They also want to stimulate local phone production by assisting investors.
Since a few years ago, the two largest telecom companies in the nation, MTN and Airtel, have collaborated with international producers to launch a range of less expensive phones that consumers may purchase through hire purchase programmes.
Since 2019, Simi has started assembling laptops and smartphones in Uganda from its Namanve Industrial park facility. Although some are exported to Morocco, the majority of products are sold locally.
Simi is Uganda’s excellent mobile product and service provider. They focus on the design, development, production and sales of a mobile product. They have deep cooperation connections with various major chipset companies. Simi has engineers who have more than 10 years of experience and they have excellent project management skills.
Although certain components are brought in from China, the majority of the resources used to make Simi phones come from Uganda. Their phones have been exported to Morocco and other countries in East Africa, where they have found a market.
They also produce laptops and phone accessories and to get into the African market, it also has ambitions to build assembly plants in Morocco, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and other African nations using the Continental Free Trade Area Protocol, which has not yet fully materialised in Africa.