Basics Edit

Uganda has a pretty crowded mobile market and the following network operators:

  • MTN
  • Airtel Uganda
  • UT Mobile (by Uganda Telecom)
  • Africell (formely: Orange Uganda)
  • Smart Telecom
  • Smile (on 4G only)

In 2014 Airtel took over #3 network Warid and Africell bought out Orange in Uganda. In 2015 Vodafone entered the market and Smart Telecom took over the licence of Sure Telecom. In February 2018 Vodafone Uganda filed for bankcruptcy and ceased operations in the country.

2G/GSM is on 900 and sometimes 1800 MHz, 3G up to DC-HSPA on 2100 MHz.

4G/LTE started on MTN, Africell and Smile so far in major cities and spread to the countryside, while on UT Mobile and Smart only 3G is available.

All the mobile operators have their own money transaction system. Like in most of Africa you can use your SIM card as a payment system too.

In 2016 the government restricted access to social media platforms ordering the shutdown of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and mobile money services for 4 days on the eve of the presidential elections. The same platforms were blocked again in the lead up to the presidents inauguration.

Registration Edit

In 2017 the government through the Uganda Communications Commission has directed all providers and their customers to re-register all SIM cards in the country. This much disputed procedure is supposed to take place in only seven days. While Ugandans can enter their national ID card details by typing *197# all foreigners need to go to a store of the provider and show their passport. All SIM cards that are not verified by 20 April 2017 shall be suspended. Deadline was later extended to May 2017 and then to 2018.

UPDATE MARCH 2018: Airtel, Africell and MTN have temporarily stopped selling new SIM cards until they get direct access to the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) database. The three operators said they were responding to new guidelines issued by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) with regard to selling new SIMs. Operators have been advised by UCC immediately to cease the sale of SIM cards through hawkers, street vendors, street agents and any other establishments that are not licensed by Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) or other municipal and town authorities.

As per this directive, MTN said it will need to acquire and install card readers at its service centres to validate national identification information before the activation of a new SIM card. This information, will be instantly verified electronically against the national data base maintained by NIRA. MTN said it does not currently have direct access to the NIRA database, therefore the sale of new SIM cards will be temporarily stopped. MTN said its working with UCC and NIRA to implement the necessary technical requirements to enable this as soon as possible. Airtel also said it has temporarily stopped the sale of its SIMs until further notice. 

UPDATE APRIL 2018: Uganda’s cellcos have restarted the sale of SIM cards after being ordered by the government last month to halt sales until they could verify applications against the National Identification & Registration Authority (NIRA) database. Operators have now installed digital card readers, with the two largest operators – MTN and Airtel – both confirming this week that they are offering SIM cards for sale at outlets in Kampala and a number of other cities. 

Social Media Tax (effective July 2018) Edit

Ugandan telecom operators have started applying the new government tax on social media accounts before users can access them. MTN, Airtel and Africell have issued a joint statement to inform customers how to pay a controversial new social media tax implemented by the government on 1 July 2018. The telcos have confirmed that users can pay the new excise duty on a daily, weekly or monthly basis via either MTN or Airtel’s mobile money service. The new fee is UGX 200 per day. Access to the services will be blocked unless the new charge is paid.

The Ugandan parliament passed new laws in May 2018 that introduced the tax on the use of OTT services, including popular social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts, Yahoo Messenger, Instagram, YouTube and Skype.

Opponents to the tax say the government is restricting the right to free communication and hiking the cost of data in a country where per capita income stands at about US$ 600.

Scratch card ban reversed Edit

The Uganda Communications Commission has reversed a ban on selling mobile airtime scratch cards following discussions with the country’s Ministry of ICT, Originally, only electronic recharges have been allowed for top-ups. After the ban was introduced on 1 August 2018 MPs complained in parliament that their constituents had suffered loss of access to services and demanded that cellcos be allowed to continue selling the cards alongside electronic airtime recharges.

MTN Uganda Edit


MTN is the market leader in Uganda with 1/2 of all customers. It has the best coverage, uses DC-HSPA+ in some regions as only provider and started 4G/LTE in Kampala on 2600 MHz with only 86 BTS stations so far: Coverage map. They started with TD-LTE, but relaunched sood with FD-LTE on this frequency.

Availability Edit

Prepaid SIM cards are available in their stores and a lot of sales outlets in the country. There is a shop/stand at the Entebbe aiport (EBB) in the hall where you collect your luggage. They will scan your passport, take a picture of you, and demand cash (but there is an ATM in the same hall), but that's the way it goes. Used them a couple of times, worked great every time.  Start-up price is UGX 2,000 with 500 UGX preloaded.

Data feature packages Edit

Default data rate is 0.8 UGX per KB. A monthly 15 MB data is free of charge to all customers who use their first 30 MB of the month. For more better add one of these bundles: table below seems old. Check their website for the current offerings.

MTN Uganda

For a closer look, click on the pic

For subscription type *150*1#. Night shift is valid from midnight to 6am.

Roaming option Edit

In all MTN-branded networks in Africa and elsewhere you can roam at a relatively low price of 0.8 UGX per KB for data.

More info Edit

Airtel Uganda Edit


Airtel Uganda, owned by Indian Bharti Airtel, is the biggest rival of MTN with 38% of customers, since it acquired the no.3 network in 2013. It gives good coverage on the now unified network in 2G 3G and 4G/LTE: coverage map.

Up to 2019 Airtel upgraded its entire network of 1,632 base station sites to 4G/LTE technology, twelve months after achieving the same milestone with its 3G rollout. Airtel launched 4G/LTE-based services in 2017 and covers 96% of the population with its 4G networks in 2019.

Availability Edit

Prepaid SIM cards are available in their stores and outlets airtel-shops. Top-ups can be bought everywhere.

Data feature packages Edit

Default data rate is 0.75 UGX per KB. By dialing *175*20#, you get free 20 MB once every calendar month. This is valid for 7 days from time of opt-in. For more data add a bundle:

Data Time Price
15 MB 1 day 250 UGX
40 MB 500 UGX
300 MB 2,000 UGX
400 MB 3,000 UGX
1 GB 2,000 UGX
1 GB 3 days 5.000 UGX
350 MB 7 days 3.500 UGX
1 GB 7,000 UGX
3 GB 15,000 UGX
5 GB 20,000 UGX
300 MB 30 days 5,000 UGX
1 GB 10,000 UGX
5 GB 30,000 UGX
12 GB 50,000 UGX
25 GB 90,000 UGX
51 GB 150,000 UGX
1 GB / day 179,000 UGX
3 GB / day 330,000 UGX
4 GB 120 days 39,000 UGX
10 GB 78,000 UGX
20 GB 130,000 UGX
85 GB 450,000 UGX

For subscription type *175#, to check data volume *175*4#

More info Edit

Uganda Telecom (UT Mobile) Edit

Uganda Telecom

UT Mobile is the cellular section of the now privatized former state provider Uganda Telecom. But it has a limited coverage on 3G in the country. So better make a network check before. 4G/LTE is expected to be launched soon.

Availability Edit

Their SIM cards are sold in their stores and outlets.

Data feature packages Edit

Ugande telecom

Subsscribe by typing *160#

More info Edit

Africell (formerly Orange Uganda) Edit


Africell, formely known as Orange Uganda, is the 4th provider and a secret recommendation, if you have coverage, which is somewhat limited. Where you have coverage, it's quite fast and reliable. 3G has DC-HSPA+ with up to 42 Mbps. In 2014 they started 4G/LTE in Kampala, Jinja, Entebbe and Gulu on the 800 MHz frequency (on band 20). It has according to reports very high speeds where available.

Availability Edit

Their prepaid SIM card is sold at their stores (for locator click on 'find us') for 1,500 UGX containig 10 domestic minutes. Default data rate is 0.8 UGX per KB. You can add these data packages.

Data feature packages Edit

Africell neu

for more info, click on the pic

Subscribe package by *133#. Check balance by *131#

More info Edit

Smart Telecom Edit


Smart Telecom owned by Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), a Kenyan-based infrastructure developer, launched mobile networks in Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi. In Uganda they started a 3G network on 2100 MHz in 2014 with a very limited coverage so far. While they offer the lowest prices right now, it's only up to 3G/HSPA, but called "4G" which is unusual in Africa.

Availability Edit

Their SIM card is mostly sold at only 500 UGX in their stores and outlets.

Data feature packages Edit

You can add one of these packages with the lowest prices in the county:

Smart Uganda

for a closer look, click on the pic

More info Edit

Smile Edit


Finally Smile actually launched the first 4G/LTE network in Uganda in 2013 on the 800 MHz frequency. In 2016 they cover Kampala, Entebbe, Wakiso, Mukono, Mbarara, Masaka, Masindi, Fort Portal, Kabale, Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Mbale, Jinja and Tororo 4G coverage map. Be aware that this is only in cites and suitable for travelles. You don't have a fallback to 2G or 3G, but stay on 4G/LTE only. Where you have coverage. you will get fast speeds.

Availability Edit

Their SIM cards can be bought alone or with a Mifi or router in their stores (list). When you bring your own device, be sure it has 800 MHz LTE and coverage.

Data feature packages Edit

These data packs for 4G/LTE can be added to the SIM plan:

Data Validity max. Speed Price
unlimited 30 dayy 6 Mbps 330,000 UGX
25 GB 30 days 2 Mbps 79,000 UGX
1.5 GB 24 hours 2 Mbps 12,000 UGX
10 GB 60 days 6 Mbps 145,000 UGX
1 GB 60 days 2 Mbps 32,000 UGX
1.5 GB 60 days 2 Mbps 60,000 UGX
500 MB 60 days 6 Mbps 20,000 UGX
3 GB 60 days 6 Mbps 75,000 UGX
5 GB 60 days 6 Mbps 90,000 UGX
20 GB 60 days 6 Mbps 250,000 UGX
50 GB 60 days 6 Mbps 530,000 UGX
100 GB 60 days 6 Mbps 1,020,000 UGX
20 GB # 60 days 6 Mbps 200,000 UGX
10 GB # 60 days 6 Mbps 110,000 UGX
5 GB # 60 days 6 Mbps 60,000 UGX

Packages can be activated in shops or online. # stands for nighttime and weekend use only. They are valid on Monday to Thursday from 7pm to 7am and on Friday from 7pm to 7am the following Monday.

More info Edit

Vodafone Uganda Edit

The British mobile giant Vodafone entered the market in 2015 through a strategic agreement with Afrimax, a group focused on offering 4G services in sub-Saharan Africa. 7 months after launching in the country, they had signed up more than 100,000 customers.

But it couldn't maintain its stand in the overcrowded Uganda marked and in February 2018 Vodafone Uganda filed for bankruptcy and ceased operations.

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