Uganda Demographic Analysis


Young adults (between 15-24) in Uganda are most likely to watch TV and read newspapers on a regular basis. This divide is even larger for newer ICTs like mobile phones.

The Uganda survey reflects the country's young population. Eighty-four percent of respondents were under 45 (those 15-24 made up 34 percent, while those 25-44 were 50 percent), and there is a clear dividing line for media and communication use at around 44 years of age. However, given fairly low overall access and use in the country, even the younger group lags far behind counterparts in many other parts of the developing world and face formidable barriers to accessing and using ICTs (especially in comparison to the other developing nations we covered in urban Latin America.

Household Access and Ownership

Chart 1

  • Radio is the most accessible and used medium in Uganda; 84 percent of those 15-44 and 78 percent of those above 45 have access to a radio at home.
  • In comparing levels of household access, television was a distant second to radio (see chart 1). Between 2007 and 2008, access to televisions at home increased by 6 percentage points for Ugandans age 24-44. For the other age groups, access remained stable.
  • Other devices such as video recorders, DVD players, etc are yet to become easily accessible for all age groups.

Chart 2

  • Mobile phones are the most accessible ICT device in Uganda (chart 2). In 2008, those 25-44 had the highest access.
  • Looking at the increase in access between 2007 and 2008, we see a different story. The greatest increase in access was seen for those above 45, whose access increased 2.5 times from 13 percent to the current 33 percent. For youth access doubled from 18 percent to 36 percent in 2008. In comparison, those 25-44 increased their access by only 1.5 times from 26 percent in 2007 to 44 percent in 2008.
  • Household access to other ICTs such as computer/laptops and the internet is very rare- most Ugandans of all ages do not have any access. Those Ugandans, who were internet users, were more likely to access it at a cyber café. This is especially true for youth (61 percent youth use cyber cafés as opposed 55 percent of those 25-44 and 47 percent of those internet users above 45).
  • Since those above 25 are more likely to have jobs than youth, they were also more likely to access the internet at work (close to 25 percent for those above 25 yrs and only 11% for youth). On the other hand, youth are most likely to have web access at school/college.

Traditional Media Use

Chart 3

  • In general, there was no difference between age groups for listening to the radio- roughly 95 percent of all respondents listened to radio on a weekly basis. Radio use remained unchanged between 2007 and 2008 for all ages
  • Leaving radio use aside, age related inequalities were seen when the respondents were asked about the frequency of their media use. Even though when compared to chart 1, the youth did not have exceptionally higher access than other age groups, they seem to use these media technologies with greater frequency- especially television, DVD/VCDs and newspapers (chart 3).
  • Interestingly however, those 25-44 showed the largest percentage-point increase in television viewership (from 18 percent in 2007 to 29 percent in 2008). Increase in viewership for youth was not as high- it increased from 27 percent in 2007 to 33 percent in 2008. Viewership for the 45 and above age group remained the same between the two years.
  • Newspaper readership increased by 4 percentage points for the two youngest age groups and by 2 percentage points for those 45 and above.

Communal Media Consumption in Uganda (Radio and Television)

  • For both radio and television, we see greater proportions of respondents claiming weekly use (chart 3) than those who said they had household access (chart 1).
  • In fact close to double the young respondents (15-24) who owned TV sets at home said they had watched TV in the previous week. This could signify a more communal watching approach to television. For those 25 and older, the difference was not as large (19 percent of those 25-44 had household access, while 29 percent had weekly use. For 45 and older the difference between access and use was only 4 percent).
  • Youth were most likely to watch television at a public place (16 percent versus 12 percent for those 25-44 and 10 percent for those above 45) or at someone else’s house (19 percent versus 16 percent for those 25-44 and 9 percent for those above 45), making them the biggest communal watchers.
  • For Radio: Although around 80 percent of respondents had radio access at home (chart 1 above), close to 95 percent of them from all age groups had listened to radio in the previous week.
  • Twenty percent of those under 44 were also likely to listen to radio in public places. For respondents above 45, the proportions were slightly lower-16 percent of them had listened to radio at a public place. In addition, close to 35 percent of all age groups listened to the radio at another household besides theirs; making it a communal medium and the most important way of reaching Ugandans.

New Media Use

Chart 4

  • As Chart 4 shows above, internet use is still in its nascent stages in Uganda. All age groups showed very little use.
  • In contrast, mobile phone use for making calls, SMS text messaging and listening to the radio increased for all age grousp between 2007 and 2008 as chart 5 shows.

Chart 5 Growth in Mobile Phone Household Access and Use by Age (2007-2008)

  • As ownership increased, so did mobile phone use. This increase in mobile activities was seen not just for making calls, but also for SMS texting and listening to radio on mobile phones.
  • In general, in 2007 and 2008, those 45 and above showed lower use than their younger counterparts at every stage- for making calls as wells as for SMS texting and listening to radio
  • It is interesting to note that respondents using mobile phones to make calls on mobile phones are higher than those who claim to have household access to one. This could signify that there might be mobile sharing between friends and family or through mobile kiosks in Uganda. All age groups show this trend- although they have different levels of household access, they are somewhat equally likely to have higher use through sharing, etc.
  • This trend of higher use compared to level of access (possibly via borrowing) is not seen when it comes to SMS texting or listening to the radio on cell phones. Nevertheless, those 44 and under, are more likely to use their mobile phones for SMS texting and listening to radio than those 45 and older.

Other Means of Communication and Accessing Information

  • Given the low use of internet in Uganda, convergence of mediums through activities such as reading a newspaper online, which is becoming more common in nations with greater connectivity, is yet to become very popular in Uganda for any age group. Nevertheless, listening to radio on cell phones is slightly more common than the other activities in chart 6. Here, youth are more likely to do so than older age groups. Those under 44 are more likely to participate in radio and TV shows by calling in or sending an SMS, although in general this is a very rare activity for all Ugandans.

Chart 6

  • In addition to traditional media such as radio and television as well as ICTs, Ugandans also access information in their outdoor environment (chart 7). The tendency to access information through posters decreases with age, although since proportions are low overall- this is not a prime source of information for any age group. Fliers and leaflets are very unpopular for all age groups.

Chart 7