The Alliance Against Monopoly (AAM), a Pan-African anti-monopoly group has called upon regulators and lawmakers to oppose monopolies that are choking Uganda’s ICT sector, stifling innovation, and reversing the gains of the past two decades.
This was echoed by Dr. Omife I. Omife, AAM’s Continental Advisory Director, while commenting on the recently released Uganda National IT Survey 2022 Report study, by the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U).
The Report showed that the cost of access was the single-largest inhibitor of internet connectivity for the majority of Ugandan businesses, households, and individuals.
He said it was the duty of legislators and regulators to move in fast and cut the monopolistic hydra, whose tentacles continue to block innovation and competition.
NITA-U Report says that household-level internet access is still severely limited, with 94 percent having no access across the country having a wider urban-rural divide
The study showed that in 55 percent of businesses that have internet access, only one in every three businesses had a business website. Of the 44.7 percent of businesses that said they did not have access to the internet, the high cost of internet service was cited as the top-most reason (63.6 percent), followed by the high cost of internet equipment (58 percent).
“The cost of internet access remains a major challenge and this calls for collaborative action across both government and the private sector,” the NITA-U study Report concluded.
NITA-U study Report also comes on the heels of another study; the Surfshark 2022 Digital Quality of Life Index, that showed Uganda is home to the second-most expensive internet in the world, after Ivory Coast.
Uganda was ranked 116th out of 117 nations surveyed. SurfShark, a Netherlands-based software company, said on average, Ugandans must work an average of two weeks to afford the cheapest fixed broadband Internet bundle.
AAM, points out that; countries with the most expensive internet also tend to be the least stable, with Uganda being ranked 110th out of 117 countries in internet stability.
“The 4th Industrial Revolution is here and has been here for a decade. This technological revolution that is fundamentally altering the way we live, work, relate and do business with each has connectivity to the internet as its core”, added Dr. Omife.
He further said; countries that invest significantly in affordable, stable, and quality internet access for their population, especially the youths, educational institutions, and businesses will be strategically positioned to outpace their peers and emerge as the next powerhouses.
“The internet, like other vital resources and infrastructure such as water, energy, healthcare, education, and transport must be delicately protected, from the excesses of capitalism,” he further added.
Dr. Omife also pointed out that; it was incumbent upon the legislators and regulators to take a keen interest in the regulation of the communications sector, both the consumer-facing telecom operators and the below-the-line communications infrastructure providers.