Laptops for Civil Servants Scheme On in Uganda

Computing

Civil servants' computer based work as well as personal computer needs, have been eased , following the arrival of more than 10,000 laptop computers, for this effect.

Civil servants unable to raise $700 (1.2m) but earn more than Shs120,000 a month can acquire the computers through an arrangement between the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Stanbic Bank.

The Stanbic Bank loan scheme enables the civil servants to purchase the personal computers, and pay in instalments to up to four years at 20% interest. The move by the ICT ministry is expected to prepare ground for the e-governance era, where government activities will be powered by technology services like videoconference, information sharing and cheaper telephony.

"The government is going e-governance. If we have hardware in place, e-governance is going to be a walkover when we rollout," said Mr Alintuma Nsambu, the State Minister for ICT, at the launch of the scheme at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala.

"The civil servants who cannot purchase the computer at once can as well as get a loan from Stanbic bank payable in four years," Mr Nsambu said of the plan to make the project affordable. Mr Nsambu announced that there were about 10,000 laptops at Parliament waiting to be distributed under this arrangement.

"We have liased with district Chief Accounting Officers (CAOs) and district chairpersons all the country to mobilize their workers to join the bandwagon," Mr Nsambu said of the plan aimed at going national.

"We created a special product to cater for salaried civil servants earning more than Shs1.2m a month to have ICT tools like computers at a reasonable cost," said Mr Philip Odera, the managing director of Stanbic bank, he added that the bank was ready to finance as many as 100,000 laptops.

The Vice president Gilbert Bukenya said while launching the scheme that the government cannot wait to cut costs and decongest offices of papers in ministries and government departments.

He said that the cost of stationery, telephony and time wasting, were partly to blame for the inefficiency in the civil service. "Technology is here to reduce costs and inefficiency in government departments," Mr Bukenya said, adding that his office alone spends more than shs200 million a year on telephone, papers and pens.

"These will reduce enormously when all the entire civil service is networked on e-governance," the VP said.

"The government wants to ease the working environment for civil servants where they can even take their work at home," he added.

The Monitor