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New ICT policy targets telecom companies

Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | The cost of internet and related services could soon drop further if the proposed sector broadband policy is implemented, according to the Minister of Information Technology and Communications, Frank Tumwebaze.

Tumwebaze, who spoke on the sidelines of the 19th ordinary session of the African Telecommunication Union Administrative Council meeting held in Kampala from April 4-5, said the policy will soon be discussed in Cabinet.

He said that the new policy which may possibly be out in the coming months will ensure that telecom companies cover the whole country while offering internet and voice call services.

He said they will urge telecom companies to share infrastructure as a measure of cutting operational costs which would further lead to reduction in consumer tariffs.

Tumwebaze’s announcement comes at the time the cost of internet and related services remain high compared with the rest of the countries in the region even as the government recently undertook steps to have it lowered.

The government, through its agency, the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) on Oct. 30, 2017, announced a reduction in the price of internet bandwidth for government offices from US$190 per Mbps to U$70. However, this is still high compared to around US$50 per Mbps in Rwanda.

Fred Otunnu, who represented the Executive Director of the Uganda Communications Commission, said one of the purposes of the ATU meeting, is to help harmonise regional polices to match those implemented at the global level through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

ATU brings together African countries and mobile communications providers to spearhead the development of the continent’s information and communication technology infrastructure. Currently, it has 46 member states and 16 association members – consisting of fixed and mobile telecom operators. The 19th meeting was organized by the UCC on behalf of the government of Uganda.

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