South Africa: New Communications Licensing Framework For Uganda

Last Updated: 6 November 2019
Article by Brian Kalule

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has completed its review of the Telecommunications Licensing Framework, which started in April 2019, and has introduced a new licensing regime with several changes including local shareholding requirements for some categories, and licences for digital financial services and audio-visual content.

This new framework is expected to come into force in 2020. Salient features are as follows.

Major licences under the new framework

  • National Telecom Operator (NTO) Licence. This will allow the licence holder to establish and provide both infrastructure and services across the entire geographical boundary of Uganda. The licence duration will be 15 years. A holder of this licence shall be required to issue 20% of its stock on the Uganda Stock Exchange within two years of the grant of the licence.
  • National Public Service Provider (NPSP) Licence. This will allow the licensee to provide either voice and data services or capacity resale services across Uganda. The licensee will not be allowed to install or otherwise provide infrastructure services, except if it obtains an appropriate PIP licence as well. The licence duration will be five years. A holder of this licence must be 20% locally owned.
  • National Public Infrastructure Provider (NPIP) Licence. This will allow the licence holder to establish and provide infrastructure services to licensed national operators, public infrastructure providers, public service providers and private networks in Uganda. Holders of this licence will not be allowed to provide services to final consumers, except where the operator also holds a PSP licence. The licence duration will be 15 years.  A holder of this licence must be 20% locally owned.
  • Regional Public Service Provider (RPSP) Licence. This licence will allow the licensee to provide either voice and data services or capacity resale services in a specific region. The licensee will not be allowed to provide services outside of its licensed region. The licence duration will be five years.
  • Regional Public Infrastructure Provider (RPIP) Licence. This licence will allow the holder to provide infrastructure services to licensed public service providers in the authorised licence area/ region. Licensed operators that provide both infrastructure and services in three regions will become eligible for an NTO licence. The licence duration will be 15 years.

Other licences/ authorisations

  • Equipment distribution authorisation for those who deal strictly in the distribution and sale of telecommunications equipment, including network and customer terminals.
  • Equipment vending and installation authorisation for those who intend to import, vend, install and maintain telecommunications equipment.
  • Authorisation to manufacture telecommunications equipment for those who intend to set up manufacturing/ assembly plants for telecommunications equipment.
  • Authorisation for disposal of communications equipment.

Authorisations for value-added services

  • Authorisation to provide digital financial services. This will cover electronic financial non-banking services, insurance services, mobile money services, mobile electronic payments solutions, mobile based lending services among others.
  • Authorisation to provide aggregation services. This will cover providers of aggregation services including short code holders and other providers that use communications infrastructure to aggregate content.
  • Digital audio visual content. This will cover entities that create, package and make available digital audio-visual content through telecommunications infrastructure. These are to be distinguished from traditional broadcasters. 

Transition

Current licence holders have 60 days from 30 October 2019 to apply for licences under the new framework. The UCC will evaluate the applications and confirm or suggest a different licence. Those whose applications for licences are pending but not yet considered have 30 days to re-apply. New entities can start applying immediately.

The new regime is expected to take effect in June 2020.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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