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Vivendi’s Canal Plus Makes $1.7 Billion Bid for MultiChoice Group

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Vivendi’s Canal Plus, the largest shareholder in South Africa’s MultiChoice Group (MCGJ.J) with a 31.67% stake, has made an offer to acquire all remaining shares in the company in a deal valued at approximately $1.7 billion. The move aims to bolster MultiChoice’s position in the competitive international market for pay TV services.

Under the proposed deal, Canal Plus plans to offer 105 rand per share in cash, representing a 40% premium to MultiChoice’s closing share price on the preceding Wednesday. Although MultiChoice’s shares surged following the announcement, they remained below the offer price, reflecting investor uncertainty about the deal’s certainty.

Canal Plus emphasized that its offer is non-binding and indicative at this stage. However, once due diligence is completed, the company intends to submit a formal letter of firm intention to MultiChoice’s board. MultiChoice confirmed receipt of the letter from Canal Plus and pledged to keep shareholders informed of any further developments.

Maxime Saada, Chairman and CEO of Canal Plus, highlighted the strategic importance of the potential acquisition for MultiChoice’s future growth in Africa. He emphasized the need for enhanced scale and expertise to navigate the evolving market landscape, which includes competition from international streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon, and Disney.

Saada emphasized that if the deal is successful, it would provide MultiChoice with the resources needed to invest in scaling up operations, supporting local African talent, and creating compelling content. MultiChoice has previously invested significantly to combat competition and strengthen its offerings, including partnering with Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky to enhance its Showmax streaming service.

Canal Plus also indicated its intention to pursue a listing, following proposals by parent company Vivendi to split into four entities. The company expressed interest in eventually listing in South Africa as part of its strategic plans.

Vivendi’s Canal Plus, the largest shareholder in South Africa’s MultiChoice Group (MCGJ.J) with a 31.67% stake, has made an offer to acquire all remaining shares in the company in a deal valued at approximately $1.7 billion. The move aims to bolster MultiChoice’s position in the competitive international market for pay TV services.

Under the proposed deal, Canal Plus plans to offer 105 rand per share in cash, representing a 40% premium to MultiChoice’s closing share price on the preceding Wednesday. Although MultiChoice’s shares surged following the announcement, they remained below the offer price, reflecting investor uncertainty about the deal’s certainty.

Canal Plus emphasized that its offer is non-binding and indicative at this stage. However, once due diligence is completed, the company intends to submit a formal letter of firm intention to MultiChoice’s board. MultiChoice confirmed receipt of the letter from Canal Plus and pledged to keep shareholders informed of any further developments.

Maxime Saada, Chairman and CEO of Canal Plus, highlighted the strategic importance of the potential acquisition for MultiChoice’s future growth in Africa. He emphasized the need for enhanced scale and expertise to navigate the evolving market landscape, which includes competition from international streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon, and Disney.

Saada emphasized that if the deal is successful, it would provide MultiChoice with the resources needed to invest in scaling up operations, supporting local African talent, and creating compelling content. MultiChoice has previously invested significantly to combat competition and strengthen its offerings, including partnering with Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky to enhance its Showmax streaming service.

Canal Plus also indicated its intention to pursue a listing, following proposals by parent company Vivendi to split into four entities. The company expressed interest in eventually listing in South Africa as part of its strategic plans.

(Conversion rate: $1 = 18.7137 rand)

URA, South Sudan Revenue Authority partner to fight smuggling, and dumping

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The government of South Sudan through its National Revenue authority (NRA) has partnered with Uganda Revenue Authority to weed out smuggling and dumping.

The Commissioner General of South Sudan Revenue Authority (SSRA) Africano Mande paid a visit to URA Commissioner General John Musinguzi to discuss his country’s plans to apply new cargo monitoring system.

Commissioner Mande announced the collaboration between SSRA and INVESCO, Ugandan company that will provide cargo-tracking technology.

“Collections from customs have been low, pushing us to make tough decisions to improve. Invesco’s services will help us improve collections and even exceed our targets’ Commissioner Mande said.

He further said that SSRA hope to learn from URA.

The Democratic Republic of Congo signed Invesco in 2021 when its revenue collections at border points were low. DRC was collecting $9 million per month but as per statistic from the revenue body in DRC, it is estimated that they collect approximately, $220 million per month as compared to $9 which represents 600% growth in revenue collection.

Previous efforts by South Sudan government and Revenue Authority to curb this revenue loss has failed through a company called K-Polygon and hence, they reverted to URA and Invesco to give them a solution like they did in Congo and this should help raise revenue for both URA and South Sudan Revenue Authority(SSRA) in a bid to raise revenue and help curb smuggling and dumping.

Uganda has been losing a lot of revenue on dumping which also causes inflation in the economy.

This will also reduce the VAT refund racket where people claimed to heading to South Sudan and leave goods on the market while claiming for VAT refund from URA. It is estimated that Uganda has been losing about Shs10 billion a day while South Sudan could have lost more.

Elon Musk’s Acquisition, X (Formerly Twitter), Sees a 71% Depreciation in Value Since Purchase

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Elon Musk’s social media venture, X, is currently assessed at approximately $12.5 billion, according to a recent evaluation conducted by mutual fund Fidelity. Notably, this valuation represents a significant decline of 71.5 percent since Musk’s acquisition of the platform in October 2002 when he, along with a consortium of investors, paid a substantial $44 billion for what was then known as Twitter. Fidelity, an equity holder in X, conducted the analysis through November 2023, encompassing the period during which the platform experienced notable setbacks, primarily linked to an advertiser exodus triggered by Musk’s controversial actions.

In mid-November, Musk’s endorsement of an antisemitic and white supremacist conspiracy theory on X led to severe repercussions. A subsequent report by Media Matters for America exposed major brands’ ads appearing alongside pro-Nazi content on the platform, prompting companies like Apple and Disney to suspend advertising. The fallout contributed to a significant portion of the losses incurred by X, with Axios reporting a 10.7 percent decline in November alone.

The final weeks of 2023 proved challenging for X, with an estimated $75 million in advertising losses due to the boycott. Musk’s confrontational stance, exemplified by telling advertisers to “go [themselves]” during an interview, further strained the platform’s standing. Musk continued his provocations in December, taunting Disney CEO Bob Iger on X for Disney’s continued advertising on other platforms.

Fidelity’s assessment of X’s value has consistently dwindled over the past year. In May 2023, the company valued X at approximately $15 billion. The current trajectory suggests that unless Musk implements significant changes, the decline in X’s valuation may persist. The unfolding developments in 2024 are poised to be pivotal for the future trajectory of X.

ICEA LION Addresses Client Concerns Transparently Amidst Social Media Buzz

Recent social media claims by Mr. Andrew Kyamagero regarding his insurance claim for vehicle registration number UBK 291B under the insurance policy of his employers, Africa Broadcasting Uganda Limited (ABUL), have stirred discussion in the tech community. Recognizing the stress associated with unexpected vehicle breakdowns, ICEA LION aims to provide a transparent response to these concerns within the tech landscape.

Highlighting the swift acknowledgment of Mr. Kyamagero’s claim on November 21, 2023, and the subsequent thorough investigations, the article emphasizes the settlement offer (Discharge Voucher) issued to ABUL. This voucher instructed payment to EASY RIDE, an automotive repair garage chosen by Mr. Kyamagero but not part of ICEA LION’s approved panel of partner automotive repair garages. The offer covered expenses such as the purchase and installation of a new engine, towing costs, and more.

Underlining the significance of the post-repair inspection on December 14, 2023, revealing that the engine had been repaired instead of being replaced as agreed upon, the article sheds light on the subsequent delay in settling Mr. Kyamagero’s claim due to the need for engine replacement. ICEA LION’s stance is reinforced, stating that once a client chooses a preferred garage, the insurer cannot be held liable for any resulting substandard repairs.

The piece underscores ICEA LION’s proactive approach in reaching out to and meeting Mr. Kyamagero on January 2, 2024. This meeting signifies ICEA LION’s unwavering commitment to resolving the matter within the tech community with utmost priority, diligence, and dedication to ensuring complete client satisfaction.

Acknowledging ICEA LION’s significant presence in Uganda for nearly twenty-five years, the article emphasizes the insurer’s commitment to exceeding customer expectations within the tech industry. It reassures Mr. Kyamagero and all ICEA LION clients that the company actively addresses concerns, aiming to provide transparent and human-centered solutions.

For inquiries, claims notifications, or complaints with ICEA LION, users can contact them on their Toll-Free: 0800 100311 / 0800 100120 or Email: contactcentre@icea.co.ug

WhatsApp Web Enhancements: Dark Mode in the Works for a Consistent Visual Experience

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WhatsApp is currently undergoing significant enhancements, particularly in the realm of its web client. One of the anticipated updates is the introduction of a new dark theme, aligning its aesthetics with the popular Android app.

The proposed dark theme for WhatsApp Web is part of the platform’s broader strategy to offer users a consistent visual experience across different platforms. Dark themes have gained popularity due to their reduced eye strain and improved user comfort, especially in low-light conditions.

Source: WABetaInfo

The impetus for this change follows recent improvements to the Android app’s dark mode color scheme in December. Despite these positive changes, the web client did not undergo a similar makeover during that period. However, recent reports indicate that WhatsApp is actively working on bringing a darker theme to its web version.

The updated color scheme for WhatsApp Web is expected to be a shade darker than its current state, providing users with a more refined and visually appealing interface. This move is in response to users’ expectations for a consistent look and feel whether they are using WhatsApp on their mobile devices or accessing it through a web browser.

In addition to the dark theme, WhatsApp is also investing efforts in refining the sidebar of its web client. This improved sidebar is designed to complement the new dark mode and contribute to an overall cohesive visual redesign. The sidebar is a crucial element of the user interface, offering navigation and quick access to various features.

Recent developments also saw WhatsApp testing the ability to share status updates through its web client, indicating a broader set of enhancements for this platform. The web client is becoming increasingly important, especially given its versatility – it can be accessed on any system with a browser, providing an alternative for users who may not have a native WhatsApp client or prefer using a web interface.

Despite being one of the largest messaging platforms globally, WhatsApp continues to actively update and test new features to enhance user experience. In December, the platform introduced features like pinned messages and the ability to search for users by username. This ongoing commitment to improvement aligns with WhatsApp’s goals of staying at the forefront of user expectations.

While the new dark theme for WhatsApp Web is still in the development stage, its eventual release is anticipated to provide users with a refreshed and visually cohesive experience, bringing the web client more in line with the aesthetics of the Android app.

Source: Android Police

Kisoro Industrial Park Makes Strides in Economic Transformation

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The noteworthy progress of the Kisoro Industrial Park takes center stage. Spearheaded by the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), the allocation of 620 acres in Bunagana and Rukundo Town councils by Kisoro district authorities signals a significant shift in the economic landscape.

During the 2023 Isangane Festival, where Director General Robert Mukiza played a prominent role as the chief guest, expressions of gratitude were extended to local authorities for their vital support. UIA’s meticulous approach, from obtaining a land title to initiating a feasibility study and defining the park’s borders, underscores a dedicated commitment to the project. The next phase involves crucial discussions on financing, bringing the vision of an industrial park in Kisoro one step closer to realization.

Beyond the cultural festivities, the Isangane Festival, organized by the Ubuntu Bafumbira United Association (UBUA), carries a noble mission of supporting Maternal Health Care in the hard-to-reach Health Centre III in Kisoro district. Mukiza’s commendation of Ubuntu’s role in fostering global connections among Bafumbira underscores the importance of identity and unity in developmental pursuits.

This development aligns seamlessly with President Museveni’s vision for the economic upliftment of the region. As Uganda embraces industrialization, with President Museveni approving 25 industrial parks across all sub-regions in May 2021, Kisoro’s narrative emerges as a compelling chapter. Stay tuned to [Your Publication’s Name] for in-depth updates on this unfolding story of economic growth and transformation.

The Influence of Agile Culture on Business Outcomes

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In today’s dynamic business landscape, adopting Agile methods has become a pivotal factor for companies aiming to enhance their operational efficiency and market responsiveness. This article delves into how embedding an Agile culture influences business outcomes, advocating for utilising services from Agile companies, agile consulting firms, and Agile development companies to foster a transformation into a fully-fledged Agile company.

Agile Ways of Working: A Catalyst for Change

Agile is an approach that embodies a set of values and principles focused on flexibility, collaboration, and customer-centricity. It’s not merely a methodology but an attitude towards product and service development, aligning with specific values and principles.

The Core Values of Agile

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  4. Responding to change by following a plan.

These values highlight the essence of Agile: adaptability, client-focused solutions, and a preference for practical results over rigid processes.

The Strategic Impact of Agile Principles

Agile principles revolve around frequent delivery, embracing change, and continuous improvement. Companies adopting these principles notice significant improvements in:

  • Speed to Market – Agile firms quickly respond to market changes, giving them a competitive edge.
  • Quality Improvement – Regular reviews and adaptations lead to higher-quality products.
  • Customer Satisfaction – Close collaboration with customers ensures that final products meet their needs.

Role of Agile Entities in Business Transformation

Engaging with an agile coaching company or an agile consulting firm can be instrumental in steering your organisation towards becoming an agile company. They provide expert guidance, facilitate the adoption of Agile practices, and help teach an Agile mindset among employees.

Why Choose an Agile Development Company

An agile development company specialises in implementing Agile practices in software development. This includes rapid iterations, continuous feedback, and adaptive planning, which are crucial for timely and effective software delivery.

The Benefits of Agile Coaching

An agile coaching company is vital in mentoring teams, helping them effectively understand and implement Agile values and principles. This guidance is critical in nurturing an Agile culture within the organisation.

The Path to Becoming an Agile Company

Transitioning to an Agile way of working involves several key steps:

  1. Understanding Agile Values – It starts with comprehending the core Agile values and how they can be applied to your business processes.
  2. Implementing Agile Practices – Integrating Agile practices like Scrum, Kanban, or Lean into daily operations.
  3. Continuous Learning and Adaptation – Encouraging a culture of ongoing learning and flexibility to adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

The Role of Scrum Master and Product Owner

The Scrum Master and Product Owner are pivotal in Agile teams. The Scrum Master facilitates the process, ensuring the team adheres to Agile practices. At the same time, the Product Owner bridges the gap between the customer and the development team, ensuring that the product aligns with customer needs.

Summary

In conclusion, embedding an Agile culture in your organisation increases productivity, product quality, and customer satisfaction. Collaboration with agile consulting, coaching, and development companies is a wise investment towards becoming a robust, agile company.

Transform your business with Agile. Discover how at Meirik.

Vanvaa App is Making it Easier to Say Thank You to Your Fave Entertainers

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In today’s digital age, it has become easier than ever for fans to connect with their favorite entertainers and show their support. With the help of Vanvaa, a new cashless way to send tips, expressing gratitude to your favorite artists, comedians, creators, MCs, and DJs has never been easier. This innovative tipping platform provides digital tools that allow any individual, business, or charity to be tipped, paid, or donated to instantly, revolutionizing the way we show appreciation for our beloved entertainers.

One of the key features that sets Vanvaa apart from other tipping platforms is its simplicity. With just a couple of taps, fans can send a tip to their favorite entertainer, without the need for a phone number. This means that showing gratitude has never been more convenient. Whether you’re attending a live performance, watching a virtual concert, or simply enjoying their content on social media, Vanvaa ensures that expressing your appreciation is just a few clicks away.

Withdrawing funds from Vanvaa is way too easy and takes less than a minute for funds to hit your account with only a 10% charge on all withdrawals. Another beautiful thing about Vanvaa is that you don’t even need an app to get an account, you can create your account straight through the browser and start getting tips, chat with friends on an easy to maneuver interface.

The most exciting aspect of Vanvaa is the opportunity it provides for fans to directly support their favorite entertainers. In the past, fans may have felt helpless when it came to financially supporting the artists or entertainers they love. However, with Vanvaa, the power to make a difference is in their hands. By sending a tip, fans can contribute to the success and sustainability of their favorite entertainers, enabling them to continue creating the content they love.

Additionally, Vanvaa is not limited to a specific type of entertainment. Whether you’re a fan of music, comedy, visual arts, or any other form of entertainment, Vanvaa offers a platform for all types of entertainers or businesses to receive tips. This inclusivity allows fans to show their appreciation to a wide range of talented individuals, ensuring that their support is felt across various industries and art forms.

Furthermore, Vanvaa’s digital tools provide entertainers with an easy and efficient way to collect donations. This can be invaluable for emerging artists who are just starting their careers, as every contribution can make a significant impact on their journey to success. By simplifying the tipping process, Vanvaa empowers entertainers to focus on what they do best – entertaining their fans – rather than worrying about the complexities of financial transactions.

To start collecting Tips with Vanvaa, all you have to do is share your account QR Code or share your link and then you can start getting tipped seamlessly.

Not only does Vanvaa benefit entertainers and their fans, but it also extends its reach to businesses and charities. The versatility of this tipping platform allows any entity to receive tips, payments, or donations instantly. This opens doors for small businesses, local charities, and other organizations to better engage with their supporters and receive the financial support they need to thrive.

Vanvaa has revolutionized the way we say thank you to our favorite entertainers. By providing a simple and convenient platform for fans to send tips, Vanvaa empowers individuals, businesses, and charities to effortlessly collect donations. 

This cashless way of expressing gratitude not only benefits the artists and entertainers we admire but also nourishes the industries and communities they belong to. With Vanvaa’s digital tools, showing support and appreciation has never been easier, ensuring that our favorite entertainers can continue to dazzle us with their talent for years to come.

So next time you want to say a heartfelt thank you to your fave entertainer, remember that Vanvaa is just a few taps away. Get started today here >> https://vanvaa.com/ 

The 5G Revolution: MTN Uganda’s Bold Step Towards Connectivity

In recent years, the telecommunications industry has undergone a remarkable transformation with the introduction of 5G technology, setting new standards for connectivity and reshaping the way we communicate and interact with the digital world.

MTN Uganda, a leading player in the country’s telecommunications sector, made history by becoming the first telecom operator to launch 5G connectivity in July this year.

In the last quarter of 2023 alone, MTN Uganda has rolled out over 35 sites starting in Kampala.

To augment the benefits of 5G, MTN Uganda has also gone to further roll out and optimize 4G+, an even more efficient version of 4G technology across the country. Combined, these technologies promise remarkable advancements in terms of speed, capacity, latency, and connectivity. They not only offer faster internet speeds but also have the potential to revolutionize and drive efficiencies in various industries, like healthcare, education, manufacturing, and transportation.

Sylvia Mulinge, the Chief Executive Officer at MTN Uganda, emphasizes the significance of the 5G rollout, stating: “As part of our latest Unstoppable Network campaign, we want to put a spot light on the extent of investment that we’re committing to ensure that through our services, we support individual and government efforts to drive progress in our communities and country. In our application for spectrum, that the regulator graciously awarded, we ensured to balance our investment by having the right mix of 4G+ and 5G technologies to make sure that our coverage spread meets the utilization requirements of individual, institutional as well as corporate customer needs.”

Mulinge further noted that as the country continues to develop, MTN shall continue supporting its customers to update their devices to optimally utilize 5G whilst rolling out the technology to ensure that it meets the needs of customers wherever they are, or go, across Uganda.

“Our latest coverage roll out promises improved connectivity that will improve services and support the extraction of previously untapped economic opportunities. The launch of 5G fits in with MTN’s wider strategic intent of being at the forefront of developing digital solutions to drive Africa’s, in this case, Uganda’s progress,” Mulinge says.

MTN Uganda’s 5G roll out has been strategically focused on key urban and commercial hubs  including, the central business district of Kampala and the surrounding areas namely; Kamwokya, Naguru, Ntinda, Naalya, Kyaliwajjala, Makerere University, Mulago, Nansana, Kawempe, Kawanda, Kisaasi, Kungu, Kanyanya, Komamboga, Nakawa, Bugolobi, Mutungo, Muyenga, Munyonyo, Kiwafu, Konge-Buziga, Bunga Hill, Mudde-Bunga, Kiruddu-Buziga, Kitende, Dundu, Bweya, Bulega, Bwerenga, Lyamutunde, Wankulukuku, and Bunamwaya.

Outside of Kampala, the cities of Fort Portal and Kasese have also seen the activation of 5G to support commercial use cases in those areas. The roll out to other areas will continue into 2024.

The 5G connected areas have already started experiencing faster and uninterrupted connectivity, offering customers and businesses access to unparalleled connectivity. 5G technology delivers significantly faster data transfer speeds, reduced latency, and increased network capacity. Customers and businesses in these areas can now enjoy seamless high-definition video streaming, crystal-clear voice calls, and ultra-responsive online gaming experiences, which all ultimately ensure productivity in whatever endeavor the technology is being used for.

The next frontier in the development of our country is going to require reliable and stable connectivity. Whether in education, commerce, medicine or manufacturing as digital connectivity powers them all, and through its mandate as a telecommunications and digital solutions provider, MTN is investing in the technology the country requires to power its progress today and for the years to come.

Ali Monzer, MTN Uganda’s Chief Technical and Information Officer (CTIO), revealed that efforts to cover the rest of the country are a work always in progress.

“The recent rollout of 4G+ and 5G technologies, is part of plans to continuously optimize our network to standards that meet international benchmarks and in line with connectivity demands around service availability, reliability and speed. The latest deployment of 4G+ and 5G technologies in both urban centers and rural areas demonstrates our continued commitment to bridging the digital divide and providing Ugandans with access to the numerous benefits of today’s modern connected world,” Monzer says.

Monzer also highlights the transformative impact of MTN’s 5G network services on businesses in Uganda noting that it brings greater efficiency and productivity to industries. He points out that 5G network services will complement MTN Uganda’s growing fiber and 4G network, creating a holistic telecommunications ecosystem.

He further explains that under optimal circumstances, 5G boasts of speeds of up to 100 times faster than other technologies, while drastically reducing data transmission latency to a mere 5 milliseconds. This remarkable advancement in technology has a transformative effect on user experiences across a wide spectrum of digital applications. It not only paves the way for services like virtual and augmented reality but also facilitates ultra-high-definition video streaming, enables the deployment of cutting-edge artificial intelligence, supports the growth of robotics, and accelerates the development of automated vehicles and the Internet of Things (IoT), among other use cases.

In essence, 5G is, according to Monzer, the catalyst that propels us into a new era of connectivity and innovation, where the boundaries of what’s possible are continually expanding.

As part of its Ambition 2025 strategy, MTN Uganda is committed to investing in infrastructure to remain at the forefront of connectivity, providing faster, more reliable connections to its ever growing customer base, of more than 19 Million customers.

The future looks promising as MTN remains intent on updating and keeping in step with, and bringing to Uganda, internationally bench marked connectivity and technological advancements.

Why the Government Should Support Free-to-Air Broadcasting

BY Innocent Nahabwe
Before the days of social media, television was our main source of news and information, along with radio and newspapers. It was also a staple in our homes, influencing how we set up our living spaces.

When I was in college, just like many of my friends, having a TV was a big deal. So, when I received my first Faculty allowance (known as ‘Boom’), I invested it in a 21-inch colour TV. It was a huge milestone for me. With a simple outdoor antenna, I could access a variety of local and even some international channels without the need for a subscription, decoder, or satellite dish. All I needed was a TV set, a power source, and an antenna.

For TV broadcasters, they had their own transmitters and broadcast towers. The larger stations, like UBC and WBS, reached a wide audience across the country, while smaller stations like LTV, Sanyu TV, and others had more localised coverage.

But everything changed on June 17, 2015, when Uganda transitioned from analog to digital TV in compliance with international regulations. The Minister of ICT back then praised the move, expecting benefits like the ‘digital dividend,’ new business opportunities, better picture quality, and support for local content.

Did we truly realize these benefits? We did see the digital dividend, which freed up frequency spectrum for telecom companies to use for LTE. But the promise of new business opportunities is still uncertain. While more TV stations have emerged, the gains in picture quality and local content haven’t been as impressive. That’s because all content now has to go through TV channel aggregators like Signet, which has made maintaining high quality a challenge.

The UBC Challenge
At the beginning of the digital migration, UBC was assigned the role of the sole signal distributor for the first five years, with the plan to separate content and signal distribution services. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) supported this by financing and setting up at least 17 broadcast sites across the country.

However, today, only the Kololo DTT transmission system in the greater Kampala area remains active, even though it’s dealing with aging equipment and sporadic power issues. The other 17 sites in different regions have been inactive for years. So, for most Ugandans outside of Kampala, watching TV means paying a ‘subscription tax’ to pay-TV providers in South Africa and China, the dominant players in the industry. This also means that Ugandan content and culture take a back seat, as local stations are only a minor part of larger pay-TV packages.

Is It Possible for Signet to Be Self-Sufficient?
In its current form, Signet faces challenges in becoming self-sustaining. While TV stations are supposed to pay twelve million Ugandan shillings each month for carriage fees, their limited reach and other issues restrict their revenue. This is made worse by the fact that Signet and UBC were never fully separated as originally planned. So, the funds that should have supported their role in signal distribution end up paying off UBC’s debts.

Even in Kampala, Signet’s equipment is aging and can’t keep up with the more than 49 licensed stations. They can only carry 36 stations with a lower picture quality. Additionally, every time the power goes out in Kololo, channel numbers change, and viewers have to rescan for channels and wait for buffering to finish. Sometimes, the picture comes without sound, or it might not come at all, requiring late-night calls to restore the signal.

The Challenge of Hybrid License Fees for Free-to-Air.
Most TV stations in Uganda aim to serve Ugandans in the country, with international audiences reached through digital platforms. However, Signet’s limitations force TV station owners to get hybrid licenses to reach their intended audience. While a regular Free-to-Air license costs only 2700 USD, TV owners now have to pay at least 46,000 USD and 22,000 USD annually for a hybrid license, which they don’t actually need but must get to be carried by pay-TV platforms.

This situation is made worse because pay-TV providers often don’t carry Free-to-Air channels, despite promises from the Minister of ICT during the early stages of digital migration. So, citizens end up paying for pay-TV subscriptions, even if their preferred channels are local ones that should be free. This leaves those with limited means without access to information that should be readily available through Free-to-Air TV.

The Role of Government in Supporting Signet
Access to information is crucial for the development of our nation. Many national programs and important announcements are primarily communicated through television, which also plays a key role in emergency and disaster alerts. With more affordable TVs and improved access to electricity across the country, television continues to shape Ugandan culture and lifestyle.

This makes it essential for citizens to have unrestricted access to Free-to-Air TV. Last year, the parliamentary committee on ICT recommended that Signet be separated from UBC and receive funding of 17 billion Ugandan shillings to ensure its full functionality. Recent information suggests that funds have been allocated for this purpose in the budget. It’s critical that Signet is empowered to provide TV services to citizens across the country. If direct government funding isn’t possible, perhaps the UCC can use the Rural Communication Fund for this purpose.

The Writer is a media owner and the V/Chairperson NAB