In 10 Years, Uganda Will Be Fully Switched On Computers

Computing

Geoffrey Kiirya, the principal information scientist and spokesperson in the ministry of ICT in Uganda was interviewed by local paper the Monitor and was confidently predicting widespread computer use in 10 years time:

Q: How do you rate IT development in Uganda?

A: Uganda is moving at a steadfast rate. Anything happening in the developed world can easily come here in a second.

Q: Do you mean we are like the developed world in as far as IT is concerned?

A: The only difference is in costs. It is costly for us to access the new technologies but if there are some rich Ugandans, they can bring the technology the moment it is launched in the developed world.

We also lack IT specialists who can develop and design new IT solutions (software).

The software we have here is imported and our specialists here help us in localising it. Every country has its own problems. Rwanda is a small country, and we have gone through many problems compared to Rwanda, so I do not really understand if someone wants to compare us with Rwanda. I know every student in Rwanda has a laptop but there is an initiative by the government to ensure that every youth in the country learns how to use a computer. Maybe after that we shall be able to give them laptops.

Q: Is your ministry doing its job?

A: We have done what we can, but the private sector has done the greatest job. Companies like MTN, Zain, Warid, and UTL have done a commendable job in helping the government offer services to the citizens, and the government is now focusing on reducing costs. We are installing the national fibre optic cable backbone and this is going to help people access cheaper Internet.

Q: What are the costs now?

A: Right now accessing the Internet using the current satellite technology costs around $4,000 but if we get the cable we shall be providing it at around $200.

Q: Won't this affect your relations with the private sector?

A: Those are business entities and they will not reduce the price for our people so we have to come in. This backbone is mainly for rural people who cannot afford high prices. This project will be managed in the same way the government manages electricity.

We are going to get a private company to help us manage the project because as you know the government does not indulge in business and we want to avoid mismanagement. The government through the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda will come in to guide on things like the tariffs to protect the public from being cheated but not management.

Q: What is the main challenge to the ICT development?

A: We have infrastructural challenges. Lack of power, especially in the rural areas, remains the major hindrance to progress.

Q: Where do you see ICT in Uganda 10 years' time?

A: Everything will be fully-computerised and digitalised and people will even be able to work right from their homes.

The Monitor