Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Telecommunication in Uganda
Operating a call booth is still on but one wonders for how long. It has taken various forms from a well configured booth to manually operated phones along road sides.
Back in the days calls from the booths could cost you about 500/- but as of now a minute from these booths will go for 200/- per minute across all networks. This simply means that as that business registers low sales continuously, the vendors have been forced to strategically concentrate on airtime sales and sim packs.
The Telecom carriers are even not making it any better for an average vendor of a booth, because they are literally eating into this very market with new products that are being introduced every other day. Orange came in with 3IN1. You buy a phone as cheap as 39,000/- which comes with airtime and 3 sim cards. Calling within those three numbers costs you 10 shillings per minute at least as per the promotion that ends May 01, 2009.
MTN will give you free messages every time you load airtime making it harder for the booths operators. Airtime of 500 shillings was introduced by MTN for example but looks like the vendors sabotaged it. This was directly eating into the booths sales because from the airtime of 500 shillings, one could easily make a call and send an sms or two as opposed to making one call from a booth and yet you are not comfortable as the operator is monitoring the calling time before you are disconnected.
Public areas like the General Post Office have had to clear the entire area of calling booths as they were posing a security threat.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
South Africa's leading fashion retailer is here. Mr Price is now in Kampala on Oasis Mall ground floor Yusuf Lule road, Kampala. Mr.Price will be open between 10:00am and 8:30pm daily.
The message from Mr. Price is ''Mujebale Kampala, Mr Price atuuse wano mukibuga kyamwe!! literally meaning they have opened up a branch in Kampala. They have bright clothes in summer colours for teens at very affordable prices. Denim skirts at 43,000/-, tunics and fashion tops going for 38,000/-.
Pants are going for 62,000/- and T-Shirts under 20,000. Bootleg, straight and loose fit denim at 57,500/- Skirts and shorts going....gone at under29,000/- Canvas shoes for boys and girls, V-thongs, barrel bag and mules let alone assorted necklaces can all be found at Mr. Price.
Mr.Price has a promo running for the next two weeks where by when you spend 120,000/- there are some red ballons you can pop and inside you find a coupon which ranges from 5 to 100% discount. Depending on your luck you can even pop 100% and come out with items worth 120,000/- plus and spend nada for them.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Exclusive - In this issue we will compare Kampala city to London which will at the end of it all show us how far ahead or how far behind we are in terms of development. London is the capital city of United Kingdom and Kampala is the capital city of Uganda so here we go.
Zebra Crossings - In London motorists will stop and pedestrians walk without any fear of any car knocking them because that is what it is but in Kampala especially the post office zebra crossing if you are not careful you might break a leg or worse still loose your life as motorists do not respect pedestrians.
Tube Transport - Underground trains are the fastest link within the city centre and trains for upcountry however in Kampala trains are un heard of even at country level. Trains in Uganda are generally for goods.
Oyster Cards - While in London you can pay you transport fares weekly or monthly and an oyster card is given to you. This is what you use on buses and tubes(trains) until the paid for period expires. In Kampala it is common practice for a passenger to give a lot of money and in the process time is lost at petrol stations simply because the bus operator (conductor) is looking for loose notes.
Free Newspapers - Im not sure as to whether I have ever come across a free newspaper in Kampala or Uganda in general except a few flyers having more adverts than news. In London I particularly know of one paper which is free and very popular. It is placed at every corner of town and by 7:30am chances are that you are lucky to find a few left. If you happen to be there be on the look out for the Metro but while in Kampala you will have to buy because there are no free newspapers. May be subsidized ones used to be there in the past and this was possible by paying a quarter of the price and go through and put back to the vendor who could then sell it to another person, thus getting more from just one copy. This has however stopped because all newspapers are stapled. Removing those staples is another topic we will cover some time on our pages.
In Car Service Take Away - In London it is common to see a number of cars que for KFC chicken or Kentucky Fried Chicken. I mean you drive to a window, place your order and in a couple of minutes you are served while in your car and off you go and the other vehicle will follow suit. In Kampala you have to park your car and walk into a ''take away'' otherwise where there are more than four cars if it is not a jam then the cars are in the que for cheap fuel normally from shell petrol station.
Credit Cards - Credit Cards are the common practice in London. I mean literally everything is purchased with a credit card whereas in Kampala the ATM/Debit Card is the in thing. The purchasing power with a credit card is greater as opposed to a debit card which many at times relies on actual funds on your account and yet you do not use it to make any purchases unless otherwise specified.
Electricity - In Uganda we still have to go and pay for our bills at the counter. It has now improved slightly because most of the banks have partnered with Umeme (electricity firm) so that customers can pay their bills from the listed banks. In London you have a key that you fix in the fuse. Once that key is about to run out of power it will warn you by going off. That is when you know that you electricity life is running out so you plan to replenish. All that has to be done is to get the key out and take it to one of the supermarkets or 247 shops and pay a top up of whatever amount and power to that tune will be activated on the key and then you take back to the fuse. No lining up, no knocking at your door and asking for the previous bills or receipts, or worse still someone climbing up a poll out side your house, you simply take charge. If that isn't development then what is it!
Consistency - In London the word consistency is well understood. If you are to travel by bus say for instance whatever you see from one point is in most cases maintained up to another 200 kms or so. That is shops, malls, services, and so on and so forth. Implying that you do not need to move from one place to get a service, chances are that that particular service is available in that locality. Otherwise we are starting to see a similar pattern in Kampala though we still have along way. If you look at Ntinda at least four banks are there, supermarkets, a discotheque, Petrol stations and so you do not have to drive to the city center just because you want to use an atm. Now had it been London and we are starting our journey from Constitutional square heading to Jinja which is 87 kms away, then Mukono would be as good as Kampala road with everything similar in almost everyway and the same to Jinja town, but that is unfortunately not the case. By the time you get to Nakawa a lot has changed, Bweyogerere is very different from Kampala and it becomes worse the further you go out of Kampala. Watch this Space for Part 2.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
While flying to Nairobi might be affordable, going by bus might be an extra pack of fun. There are a number of bus companies plying the Kampala -Nairobi route and Kampala - Mombasa route. Affordable is the word while flying to Nairobi in less than an hour from Entebbe airport to Jomo Kenyatta airport.
On road it should take you a couple of hours and while at it, you are having a clear view of the surroundings. In most cases a stop over at Namawojolo is guaranteed for a piece of roasted chicken plus others.
Modern Coast Bus(Dewington Road) opposite National Theatre and Scandinavia bus next to Theatre Labonita are some of the buses that ply these routes.
Modern Coast Bus
MCB will charge you 77,000/- for first class and 65,000/- business class for the Kampala to Mombasa route which departs every day at 12:00pm. First class from Kampala to Nairobi will go for 50,000 and Business class 45,000/-. For more information call 0701699712, 0776800910.
Akamba Bus Service
This is the oldest bus plying this route also located on Dewington road.. The charge to Nairobi from Kampala is 43,000/-(Executive). They have the royal bus departing at 7:00am daily and the charge to Nairobi from Kampala is 58,000/- For other timings and routes, these phone numbers would be of great help: 0414250412, 0772505539.
This operates four times a week departing from Kampala to Dar via Nairobi, Arusha and Moshi. Kampala to Nairobi is 50,000/- while Kampala to Dar is 120,000/- They are located on Lumumba Avenue in between the French Embassy and St Anthony(local food). Otherwise for more details you can try these numbers: 0772 377174, 0772 570760
We have provided numbers to the respective bus companies for purposes of sorting out the the bus times, maps plus bus routes. These very buses are also available for bus rentals especially for customized tours.
Have you used any of these buses and have any additional information you would wish to add, please send us that information by clicking on comments below
Saturday, 18 April 2009
Mobile Money Transfer Now in Uganda
Once you have enabled your sim card to become MTN Mobile enabled as opposed to sending money to friends and relatives, you can also buy airtime.
Go to MTN Menu> Mobile Money> Buy> MTN Airtime> Amount> 5,000 >Mobile Number>......>Confirm Entry> Ok> MM Pin.....> Confirmation message will follow.
If you have more than 5,000 or 5,000 shillings as balance on your mobile money account, you can use it to buy airtime in case it runs out and yet you were in the middle of an important call with no airtime vendor near by.
It is important to note that you cannot buy airtime below 5,000 as that is the minimum amount to be sent for moblie money transfers.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Payless supermarket offers free delivery for items over and above 25,000/- for as long as they are not drinks, Perishables and Cooking Gas. They have branches in Bukoto and Bugolobi so those residing in areas within those supermarkets can benefit from the arrangement if they need it.
For free deliveries within Bukoto-Ntinda area the number to call is 0712919183 and place your order plus directions. Payment can be made when the items are eventually delivered.
Bugolobi and Luzira area can still benefit from this arrangement by calling 0712919196 for home delivery. Flowers, Food and Pizzas are the items that are most delivered when it comes to services similar to these but with the supermarket extending their service to its customers, a range of items will be delivered now that the supermarket does not sell Pizzas and food.
Have you used the service, do you know of any supermarket doing a similar service, we would like to hear from you
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
Sending an SMS will return with a pin code worth of Internet surfing time. This is what Uganda Telecom mobile wifi hotspots can do for you.
A number of hotspot zones are in place implying that if you are in these places and you send an sms to the details which will be provided at the end of the article, you will be able to surf the internet on your GSM/GPRS enabled phone.
You can still go to any internet café to access the net but in case you are in any of these places i.e. Fat Boys Chicago Restaurant, Iguana and Just Kicking all in Kisementi, Java Coffee shop on Bombo road, Good African Coffee at Shoprite Lugogo plus Hotel Triangle & Jinja Nile Resort in Jinja, you will be able to use this service.
How Do You Get Your Surf Time?
Simply go to messages type UTHS1 and send to 167. This will cost you 2,000/-(Two Thousand shillings only) which is the equivalent of 1 USD and a pin for 1 hour surfing time will be sent to you in return. Do the same if you want more hours by replacing one with 3 or 6 and you will be charged 5,000/- and 10,000/- Ugx respectively.
Other hotspot areas in Kampala are Mateos, Tal Cottages in Rubaga and Pizzeria Restaurant in Bugolobi.
This is applicable to UTL subscribers with phones enabled to do that but other carriers will certainly roll out similar plans. WARID has a modem going for 150,000/- and a monthly of 85,000/- to at least get you moving for 30 days. You must have a computer or laptop though as the tools required.
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Over the weekend it does no harm taking your family for some bit of fun thrilled entertainment in one of the theatre houses in and around Kampala. Theatre tickets are got from the respective venues. Early bookings normally result in discount tickets. The following theatres will be a perfect package for drama skits.
Theatre Labonita -You must have heard of the Ebonies and if not then this is there permanent home, which is a state of art theatre though has no provision for a wheel chair unless when they have alternative means for special persons. Labonita that doubles as a Cinema is adjacent to Christ the king and next to Emirates on Kimathi Avenue.
National Theatre – Cultural Entertainment, Music Shows plus lots of action packed local drama and comedy. Once on Dewinton Road you should not miss them or if you go to the very end of the Parliament of Uganda, you will not miss them. In their gardens you also find lots of art and craft materials.
Pride Theatre – On Bombo Road after Kobil Petrol station while heading to Wandegeya from town.
One on Namirembe road as you head towards Gadaffi mosque from Kampala is ideal for local drama.
Wednesday, 08 April 2009
Centenary Park - This is the section that borders Hotel Africana, Nakumatt and Jinja Road (Traffic Lights to Wampewo round about). There is a nice play ground for kids of all ages. Bouncing Castles, Swings plus all those games that toto's will love can be found here. You can also go to CHOMA restaurant which is a UTL hotspot and surf the net on your mobile at a minimum of one hour at 2,000/- Simply type UTHS1 and send an sms to 167 and a reply with your pin will be sent for you to surf the net.
- There is a small section for kids but what is amazing about this place is the number of things you can do under one roof. Garden City is a one stop center More on Garden City
Didi's Amusement Park - This is the Thorpe Park of Uganda except that there are no auto photographs. If any then they have to be taken manually. Short of that this is a perfect and amazing experience for kids of all ages. Drinks and Eats are in plenty with background music. Water slides ending up in a swimming pool can be thrilling experience for some teens, plus all those circus related games and drama.
Munyonyo Resort - The perfect place to be on Sundays though with time it becomes cold so there's need to park warm clothing just incase the cold weather trickles in. Horse riding is available, swimming, football pitch, and ideal for bicycle riding plus cruising of other toys for under fives.
Kiwatule Recreation Center - This centre can be accessed through Ntinda. On getting there, there is ample space for small parties, plus bouncing Castles, Background Music, and the only place with a moving train which ensures that your kids leave with a memorable experience. There is also a swimming pool. It is also ideal for bicycle riding.
Imperial Resort Beach - Beach volley ball, Background Music, Swimming at your risk of course, Fish n Chips plus entry fee of about 2000 for adults and 1,000 for kids plus a dancing arena.
Saturday, 04 April 2009
Petrol stations or Gas stations have come up with ways of attracting customers to turn to their filling stations and among those tactics are the fuel cards. This card works like an ATM for cash withdraws.
A customer will park by the petrol station, demand for fuel as required and as opposed to giving cash in exchange for the fuel; this card is presented. The pump attendant will then swipe it through to his terminal to assess whether there is fuel or not. He will then deduct the litres you have taken off the card. However for this transaction to be complete you must insert your pin number. If you have a Total card then you will not stop at Shell and vice versa.
In times of scarcity card holders tend to benefit at the expense of cash holders because they have paid already and thus entitled to fuel. The Kenyan Crisis last year brought in serious scarcities and card holders at the time were entitled to at least 20 litres and yet those paying by cash were paying three times the normal price for a liter of petrol.
Cooking Gas has become a phenomenon in most homes and the in thing. Petrol stations like Shell, Kobil and Caltex have taken advantage of the growing market. Refilling Gas Cylinders of 15Kgs can cost you 60,000 less the cylinder charges of course bearing in mind that the cylinder is bought once. In supermarkets like UCHUMI you can pay for your gas and cylinder and you will be presented with a coupon which you can then present to that filling station you are attached to. This option is for those whose locations might not have petrol stations to which they are subscribed to near them. The moment you have been served you will be given a receipt which you can then present back to UCHUMI for a refund. It works like when you go to a beach and pay for beer but you are charged the price of the empty bottle and once you bring back the empty bottle, you are given your deposit fee.
You will notice that these days all petrol stations have supermarkets/shops attached to them. Total has Bonjour and Shell has Select Shops. Petrol stations realize that other than fuel they need to diversify their services. Servicing cars, selling tires, Washing Bays, Pressure refill, phone Airtime of all networks etc. Some have taken this very aspect very far for example Shell Bukoto is known for Meat and Vegetable Sambusas and Shell Ntinda is popular for Pan Cakes (Kabalagala) and you will see people from all walks of life lining up for Kabalagala. They recently had an overhaul of the entire place which saw the suspension of selling Kabalagalas.
Over 30 Brands
Shell, Caltex, Gapco, Hass, Gaz, Kobil, are among the petrol stations operating in Uganda. Otherwise they are quite a number and some have no names and these tend to charge a lesser price but at your own risk. The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) normally carries out inspection checks to find out which pumps pass its test and those that have passed the quality check, an approval sticker will be displayed.