Uganda: E-Government - Phase Two Begins This July

Computing

The information and communication technology (ICT) ministry wants to avoid the errors and challenges experienced in the first phase of installing the national data backbone fibre cables by involving local leaders.

The ministry wants local leaders in areas where installation of the optical fibre cables is taking place to appreciate the value of the infrastructure.

A pioneer sensitisation workshop was held in Luweero last week, in which local leaders were briefed about the costs, benefits and value of the national backbone and electronic government (e-government) infrastructure.

ICT officials reckon that if local leaders own the project and can in turn educate their people, then the sensitive underground optical cables will be safe from hostile tampering by the local communities. It will cost $60.7m (about sh137b).

The entire project will cost $106m (about sh250b)

"There is need for political will, harmonising the national backbone infrastructure project with other telecom infrastructure projects, road works and local ownership," said Geoffrey Kibuuka, the ICT ministry's director communications and broadcasting.

The national backbone and e-government infrastructure will upon completion enhance connectivity for data, voice-and-video communications between schools, health centres, agricultural and administrative centres across the entire country.

This should then take advantage of the upcoming sea fibre cables that will start landing at East Africa's coast this month, further increasing and lowering access to Internet services.

Alintuma Nsambu, the ICT state minister, estimates that upon the arrival of the sea cables in Uganda, the cost of broadband connection will reduce from $5,000 (about sh11m) to between $200 (about sh455,000) and $300 (about sh682,500).

"Lowering the cost of bandwidth will help so many people sell their abilities and potential to the world," said Nsambu.

"You can create assets and wealth just from your office. There will be resistance to this project. But stick and you will see the benefits."

But leaders have urged the Government to have a comprehensive plan for future projects so that unnecessary damage to roads is avoided.

There have been cases where private telecom companies and public electricity and water utilities have had to destroy troad reserves to install their materials.

Patrick Samaanya, the ICT ministry's permanent secretary, mentioned that the Cabinet was looking at an all-inclusive proposal that should avoid such wastage.

Already 1,684km of the optical fibre has been installed in Kampala, Mukono, Jinja, Entebbe and Bombo. Up to 27 ministries have also been connected and video conferencing is available in these ministries. In total, 2,118.64km will be covered by the backbone project.

Huawei Technologies, a Chinese firm, is undertaking the installations.

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