Uganda telecoms, government fight over Shs44 trillion mobile money industry
A fight is raging between telecom operators on one side, and the Uganda Communications Commissions (UCC), the Uganda Police Force, and State House on the other, over moves to monitor the Shs44 trillion mobile money business.
At the heart of the fight is a push by President Yoweri Museveni to get full access of the telecom data systems through the multi-billion technology called Intelligence Network Monitoring System (INMS) that government put in place last year.
While Uganda has multiple telecom companies, the fight to defend business secrecy appears to have been left to the two telecom giants — MTN Uganda, which says it controls 55% of the telecom market share or about 11.2 million subscribers, and its main challenger; Airtel Uganda.
Although Museveni acquired the INMS to monitor mainly the data and voice operations of the telecoms, the current disagreements appear to stem from the push by government departments to pry into mobile money, which is the biggest cash cow of the telecoms. Mobile money, which has been growing very fast, had a value of Shs44 trillion at the end of 2016. That is what the Uganda Police, State House, and the Ministry of ICT want to get involved in.
Photo courtesy of Simone McCourtie.