Africell recently stated that it was ceasing operations in Uganda, where it had been up against stiff competition from MTN and Bharti Airtel’s local subsidiaries. Africell joined the Ugandan market in 2014 after acquiring the local operations of France’s Orange. In addition, it has operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, and Sierra Leone. However, it has struggled to grow against South Africa’s MTN, with more than 10 million subscribers in the East African country and India’s Bharti Airtel.
“Africell will cease operations in Uganda on October 7, 2021,” the company announced in a statement, adding that its decision was “based on a careful assessment of the business’s long-term commercial outlook” and how Uganda fit into its digital transformation strategy.
According to the company’s website, Africell has 2.3 million Ugandan subscribers. According to Sam Williams, the firm’s communications director, the company serves 12 million people throughout the continent and plans to begin operations in Angola by the end of the year. The revelation is sure to benefit MTN, which is gearing up for an IPO in which it plans to sell 20 per cent of its shares to the public.
Last year, the government ordered that all telecom companies list at least 20 per cent of their shares on the stock exchange for citizens to share in the profits. Slowing growth in recent years, compounded by COVID-19’s effects, has lowered the east African country’s economic prospects and resulted in a steady migration of international firms, particularly grocery chains from South Africa and neighbouring Kenya.