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Kampala telecoms 'battle' shifts to rewards

KAMPALA, UGANDA - With Uganda's mobile phone subscribers currently believed to be at 10 million, the telecom companies are jostling to out compete each other in the battle for more customers.

This has caused most of the companies to offer customer friendly services and prizes in an effort to woo more customers.

The price wars that earlier on characterized the sector had given some of these companies a competitive edge as some had offered call rates that were so low and customer friendly.

The huge drops in calling tariffs over the past year saw corresponding jumps in subscriber numbers, but the growth eventually outpaced investment in the networks.

However, a combination of rock bottom tariffs and escalating operational costs pushed Ugandan telecom operators against the wall, hurting the quality of service and new investments.

Consumers suffered from an increased incidence of dropped calls and non-functional helplines as operators struggled to offset their costs.

Recently, the telecom companies hiked calling tariffs where by each network added 1 shilling to the 3 shillings per second calling cost. They sighted the hike in call rates as being due to the economic crisis globally which has affected them through increase in their costs of production especially because they use diesel when powering their generators.

As a result, the companies have resorted to other means of attracting customers like introducing new services and of recent they have resorted to rewards.

Warid Telecom, Airtel and Orange have all resorted to these tactics so as to woo customers to their networks.

Warid Telecom has staked money and plots of land in their promotion dubbed 'Kiwedde' (It's done) whereas Airtel has staked cars, money, and fully furnished houses in their promotion christened 'Kika Cash and Cribs'.

Last week, a lucky customer of Airtel won the first house located at the upscale suburb of Najjera east of Kampala in the Airtel promotion.

Maureen Orikiriza, a 28 year old primary school teacher said that she sent over 50 messages  to win the house.

"I'm overwhelmed and surprised because I didn't expect it to happen like this. This is surely the perfect Christmas gift. I hope to rent it out after staying in it for the first three months to raise an extra income, as you know we teachers, our income is not really sufficient", she said.

 
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