UCC clarifies Airtel’s statutory levy payment, fast data depletion concerns

UCC clarifies Airtel's statutory levy payment, fast data depletion concerns
Airtel Uganda handed over Shs 34.8 Billion cheque to telecommunications regulator UCC.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has issued a statement aimed at clarifying recent concerns regarding Airtel Uganda’s statutory levy payment of Shs 38.8 billion, equivalent to 2% of its annual gross revenue.

Airtel Uganda Managing Director, Manoj Murali handed over the cheque to UCC Executive Director, Nyombi Thembo on Thursday 4, April 2024.

“Airtel is committed to Uganda’s development demonstrated by our participation in the licencing regime and reliable communication services across Uganda. We do this because our role as technology enablers is to unlock the potential of Uganda as we connect people and business to opportunities,” Manoj said.

Airtel Uganda Managing Director, Manoj Murali (Left) and UCC Executive Director, Nyombi Thembo (Right).

The UCC Executive Director, Nyombi Thembo hailed Airtel for being an exemplary force in driving Uganda’s telecommunication services for many years.

“This contribution of Shs 34.8billion will go a long way in shortening the digital divide in Uganda. This highlights Airtel’s recognition of its crucial role in providing essential communication services to the underserved,” Thembo said.

UCC Executive Director, Nyombi Thembo.

Contrary to speculation, UCC has on Friday 5, April 2024 clarified that the payment is not linked to the ongoing online campaign #DataTheftExhibition, against the rapid depletion of internet bundles and other related service complaints.

According to UCC, the 2% levy paid by Airtel Uganda is a legal requirement under section 68(1) and schedule 5 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013. It is also part of the terms and conditions of the telecom company’s license, thus applicable to all operators, not exclusively to Airtel Uganda.

UCC allocates half of these funds to the Consolidated Fund of Uganda, while the remaining portion is channeled towards enhancing communication services in unserved and underserved regions of Uganda through the Uganda Communications Universal Service and Access Fund (UCUSAF).

UCC acknowledges the public’s concerns about the rapid depletion of internet bundles and the timing of Airtel Uganda’s compliance payment. However, it emphasizes that these two matters are entirely distinct.

In addressing the issues of internet bundle depletion and service dissatisfaction, UCC assures the public of its active engagement with all telecommunications operators, including Airtel Uganda, to scrutinize and resolve these concerns.

MTN Uganda in a statement on Tuesday 2, April 2024, said it has taken note of the widespread concerns voiced by the public and has reaffirmed its dedication to addressing the specific challenges linked to data depletion, as highlighted in the ongoing social media campaign #DataTheftExhibition.

Acknowledging the grievances raised by numerous Ugandans, including notable figures from the entertainment industry, regarding the rapid depletion of their data GBs within a short period, MTN Uganda issued a statement to directly tackle these issues.

“MTN Uganda takes these concerns very seriously and is dedicated to addressing them,” the company stated.

Airtel Uganda also in a statement issued on Wednesday 3, April 2024, acknowledged the widespread concerns raised by the public and reiterated its commitment to addressing the specific challenges associated with data depletion.

UCC reiterates its commitment to promoting transparency, fairness, and understanding between consumers and service providers regarding data billing and usage.

This commitment according to the commission, aims to ensure a balanced and protected environment for both consumers and operators, ultimately fostering a healthy, competitive, and transparent telecommunications sector in Uganda.

Also Read: Ugandans using internet for chatting rather than business, worries UCC

As UCC works towards creating a more inclusive and equitable digital future for all Ugandans, it expresses appreciation for the public’s trust and understanding in these endeavors.

Telecom operators’ 2% statutory levy contribution

All licensed telecom operators in the country are required to pay a statutory 2% levy on their annual gross revenues to the fund administered by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).

Established in 2003, the Fund then known as the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) addresses issues of connectivity, access, affordability and equity of ICT services to the population.