NRM MANIFESTO WEEK | The Minister of Information, ICT and National Guidance Judith Nabakooba has attributed the high cost of internet in Uganda to the limited number of users.
She said this as she presented the achievements her ministry registered between 2016 and 2021 in implementing the NRM manifesto commitments and strategic presidential directives today in Kampala.
Minister Nabakooba noted that when the users of ICTs and internet increase, as is expected in the next two years, the cost will go down.
“We are laying out the infrastructure to ensure there are more users of these services so that the cost is shared and some of these taxes would not be in place if the users were adequate,” she said.
She confirmed that the government has abolished OTT tax for social media but instead introduced a new tax on internet data. Nabakooba revealed that in the last five years, the ICT sector has created 5000 jobs across the country there helping in improving people’s standards of living.
To improve the operations of the Uganda Media Council, the Ministry of Information, ICT and National Guidance is planning to give it a funding line. For long, the Media Council is not budgeted for in Uganda. Having a budget vote would enable the council to strengthen and monitor media activities better, Judith Nabakoba, the Minister of Information, ICT and National Guidance said. She added that journalists and the Media Council have to work together in order to serve the country well.
Accompanying the minister was the UCC acting executive director Irene Sewakambo, who reiterated that pockets of unregistered phone sim cards are posing a threat to national security. “It is a responsibility of the telecom companies to ensure the SIM cards are legally registered. Now there is attribution of the phone sim cards some people have been using other people’s ID cards to register SIM cards yet the owners of the IDs don’t know or did not give consent. We have now strengthened the SIM card registration include use of biometric machines to improve the integrity of the exercise,” said Sewakambo.
She emphasized the fact that any individual whose National ID card or any official documentation is used to register a SIM card is responsible for how that SIM card is being used. We discourage people from registering the SIM cards for others.
She noted that the other loophole has been on the corporate SIM cards but that gap is being addressed. She noted that broadband internet has been upgraded from 2G to 3G and this is ensuring quick service delivery. Rural areas are also being connected on the national broad band.
To improve the reach of Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), Shs30 billion was allocated to UBC to ensure operational radio stations all over Uganda so that people get information they need.
Contribution to manifesto implementation
➡ ICT adoption is critical in improving service delivery for citizens and businesses, and to foster more productive, competitive economy and inclusive growth. Between 2014 to 2020 ICT services in Uganda continued to grow at an impressive average growth rate of 14.8 percent. The sector contribution to GDP averaged 3.1 percent and significantly contributed to national revenue. Telecoms are leading tax payers.
➡ Other achievements registered in the last five years include: A total of about 4000km of Fiber Optic cable laid; 480 MDAs and LGs sites connected to NBI. 700 new MDA/LG sites will be connected by end of next FY 2020/21; and Over 20 million dollars generated from Commercialisation of the NBI in the last 5 yrs.
➡ Over 140 ICT innovators were supported. “We have received several applications from young Ugandan innovators who are doing a lot service delivery in different field like food deliveries, waste management, transportation etc. We need to keep supporting these young innovators,” said Nabakoba during the NRM Manifesto Week 2021.
➡ She also reported that Free Wi-Fi dubbed ‘MyUg’ is provided to the general public in over 284 locations in the Central Business District of Kampala and Entebbe from 5pm to 6am on Monday to Friday and full availability over the weekends. The Ministry of ICT figures show that re are over 2 million users are on the MYUG platform each month.