Mobile Everywhere in Kampala

By: Ben White
On: April 6, 2009
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About Ben White
I am a media professional with several years of international experience. I have worked on media projects in Europe, Central/Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. I have a particular interest in the rise of internet and mobile tehnologies in emerging markets. This interest is an important part of my master's program at the University of Amsterdam.

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Kampala – April 6th, 2009

First impressions – I have just arrived in Uganda and can tell you that the presence of the mobile phone is felt and seen everywhere! Just some notes from my trip from the airport. Upon arriving the first thing you notice is the Orange signs welcoming you to the Entebbe airport. They are now the fifth operator to start up here in the country. Despite the competition they must see a lot of business opportunity. Will double check but heard their initial investment was around 200 million USD (MTN is the largest network in the country, others include Zain, Uganda Telecom and Warid).

Driving from the airport you see nothing but advertisements for mobile networks, phones and services. As in many other countries, Zain has come to Uganda with a mission to paint as many buildings as possible in their bright fucia red and turquoise blue. Have to say the combination stands out when compared to the more neutral Orange and Red of the old Celtel brand. Apparently, Zain and the other companies offer to paint your building for free. Of course you have to be willing to live and work in their colors!

Our driver also had sim cards waiting for us. We had to try a couple of the networks before we could find one with good reception. I thought it was interesting that he has three sim cards (none with any credit) and two mobile phones. Our second friend who came to pick us up had 5 sim cards (one for each network) and three mobile phones (two pre paid). He still has to activate the Orange account but has it on hand just in case!

The ICT4Uganda Research Project is now officially underway.

Check our blog for updates!

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