eGovernment Project in Uganda Reflects on Successes and Challenges

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What happens to a project after IICD support ends? This question was recently addressed at a focus group meeting of the Mbarara District Net project in Uganda, operating independently since 2006. IICD’s Hanna Goorden, Uganda country manager, was there and was pleased to discover the project has booked successes.
eGovernment Project in Uganda Reflects on Successes and Challenges

District Net was started in 2002 by the Ugandan Ministry of Local Government. Its aim was to improve communications between the different government levels within a district through ICT. The goals were to improve transparency and increase public information in four rural districts. One of these is Mbarara.

There, ICT has helped staff to work faster and more efficiently. Meeting minutes, calling meetings, salary requisition are all shared by email. This saves the cost of travelling and stationery. “We do not need to travel to Kampala now and again to brief our superiors on regular financial reports,” says the focal person of Mbarara District Net, Sylvester Timbisiimirwa.

Despite the successes, the project has also experienced challenges. Not all departments are interconnected. There is not enough electricity in the district, which limited expansion of the project into all the sub-counties. Lack of funding also played a role. “Originally, we were supposed to network all the administration departments, and also network all the sub-counties. This has been delayed due to limited funds at the district’’ said Timbisiimirwa.

Mbarara now wants to develop an ICT policy that fills the gaps in the District Net. Timbisiimirwa says they first need to harmonise this with the government ICT policy, which has so far been tabled before Cabinet.

Goorden said, “This was a unique opportunity to learn how the project fared since IICD stopped its support, and to understand where challenges lie to ensure District Net’s sustainability going forward.”