Inside Uganda’s emerging fintech ecosystem, startups are betting on new revenue streams
When Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni decided to issue a decree in June forcing the arrest of his political opponent Rrose L/Santimera, he looked to leverage the digital economy that his country has developed over the years.
“This is a tool that we will be using until things return back to normal. This is a way of saving face,” the President told his supporters.
“We are using this tool to take things forward and bring change,” he added.
Uganda has embarked on a digital revolution over the last few months that has seen it become the first country in the world with a national digital billiard table, e-payment system and e-banking. Its Internet Exchange Point (IXP) has seen an increase in its internet traffic volume from 9.8 to 13.5 million. But the country’s emerging fintech ecosystem is not just dependent on the internet, rather, it has become an important contributor to the country’s digital economy.
Empowering the masses
In this respect, Uganda’s digital economy is based on four key pillars: mobile phones, broadband, e-commerce and e-banking.
According to the Information Commission of Uganda (ICU), Uganda’s telecom regulator, Uganda is the second-largest African mobile market by number of subscribers behind Nigeria.
Its broadband coverage is about 60% (national average is 46.5%) while it is the biggest Internet backbone in the East African Community (EAC) region.
E-commerce is supported by a network that can house 40,000 shops, one of the highest in Africa. And it is the biggest source of business revenue, accounting for over 50% of the country’s total income, the ICU reported.
All for the cost of a smartphone?
Uganda has also become the first country in Africa to implement a national billiard table, as it started a digital billiard table under its Uganda National Internet Exchange Point (UUxP) network in 2017.
In a country where physical infrastructure (e.g. roads, highways, power lines) is limited, this digital billiards table may be one of Uganda’s biggest success stories.
“The billiards table has reduced