Uganda: Roke and Facebook supply affordable internet access

26 October 2020

Roke Telkom, a Ugandan public service provider for voice and data communications services, has partnered with global social networking firm Facebook to launch a new internet service programme.

The new Roke Express Wi-Fi service aims to take high-speed internet connections to millions of Ugandans at a lower cost. Roke said that, according to a Uganda Communications Commission 2019 report, only 23% of a population of more than 44 million Ugandans were internet users.

In addition, a Forbes 2020 report also indicated that there was a 70% increase in internet usage due to the Covid-19 pandemic, suggesting that this initiative will help to enable a number of Ugandans to access the internet.

“The Roke Express Wi-Fi is a more scalable service network that will enable us increase the number of access points to the internet, improve our deployment scale and enhance efficiency to over 600 Rokespots," said Roger Sekaziga, chief executive officer of Roke Telkom. He added that Roke is now able to offer a more diversified set of services, including promotional offers.

Roke Telkom said the programme will enhance its ability to understand the market and tailor products to better fit customer needs.

Facebook first began testing its Express Wi-Fi service network five-years-ago and has since expanded across many African countries including Tanzania, Kenya and, most recently, Uganda. The programme is intended to offer local entrepreneurs and grass-roots communities affordable internet services.

The potential for Wi-Fi as a way of bringing the internet to the less well off is being explored in a number of African countries. For example, Fiam Wi-Fi, a new Nigerian telecommunications company, which aims to provide affordable internet via public outdoor hotspots to underserved communities, is now rolling out in the city of Lagos.