Look anywhere in Uganda and you will most likely see most people busy on their phone. They could be chatting on Whatsup, getting a feel of the newest happenings on their Twitter account, catching updates on Facebook, or transacting on mobile money, writes Nicole Namubiru.
For anyone who witnessed the period before the start of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) revolution in the mid-1990s, these activities represent a major shift in the political, social, and economic life of Ugandans. Tracing that transformation led Independent Publications Ltd (IPL), the media company that publishes The Independent magazine, to partner with the Uganda Communications Commission and other ICT-related organisations to publish a book titled `ICT: Uganda Goes Digital’.
“This book is as a result of the need to recognise, document, and celebrate the successes of Uganda’s embrace of the ICT revolution,” says Godfrey Mutabazi, the Executive Director of the Uganda Communications Commission which oversees the sector, “Hardly do the drivers of the ICT revolution in Uganda ever get the recognition they deserve.”
The book set out to change that and highlight the country’s long journey on the ICT superhighway and document and celebrate the successes. Mutabazi, in a foreword to the book, says though Uganda is not yet at the peak of ICT, the future looks bright because of the positive attitude of the decision makers and the public.
The IPL General Manager, Charles Kankya, says the ICT book is the latest in a series of high quality publications of record that his company produces. So far, the company has produced 24 such books, most in commemorative coffee table book format, with deeply researched articles, captivating photography and graphics, and using high gloss paper and printing on the best presses in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“This time round the focus was on ICT because there has been an ICT-driven transformation in almost all fields of life and work and we saw the need to document that,” says Kankya. According to him, it is exciting to read about how both the public and the private sector have been involved in the ICT revolution and the thinking behind their embracing of modern technologies to run day to day activities.
The book contains interviews with key decision makers and experts in the ICT sector and stories and photographs, and graphics showing how Uganda’s ICT sector has developed from times of zero internet penetration to having it soar to over 13 million users today.
It shows the journey from the time Uganda had one operational television station to the current state where there are 67 licensed TV stations, 62 of which are operational. Also there was a time when the nation had only one functional radio station, but it has since moved to having 229 licensed and 208 operational radio stations.
It also shows the various ways that ICT has penetrated and changed the lives of many Ugandans in fields of finance, health, education, energy, and other fields.
One of the major decisions highlighted is the move by the Ministry of Information Technology to lead the digital migration policy. Findings show that the total number of Pay TV subscribers stand at about 640,000 and that the increased convergence between broadcasting, telecommunications and the internet are boosting the ICT sector.
The IPL general manager says his company’s focus on high levels of excellence and great quality work has enabled them to continuously produce such great books and magazines which are readily available on the market. The ICT book can be got from the IPL head office in Kampala and several representatives in parts of the country.