MPS TO INVESTIGATE SHS2 BILLION NAKASEKE TELECENTRE PROJECT IN UGANDA

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Parliament is to investigate the circumstances under which the government handled the procurement of the multi-million Nakaseke Telecentre project. The chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Mr Edward Baliddawa Kafuufu (Kigulu North), said the committee has agreed to carry out a value-for-money audit of the project. "It's true we visited the area, and members of the committee were not satisfied with the facilities available at Nakaseke telecentre," Balidawa said.

"We have decided to carry out an immediate audit for the project to help Uganda benefit from such ICT facilities. All stakeholders will be summoned to the committee." Ms Nabilah Ssempala (Kampala Woman MP), a member of the committee, said that over Shs2.2b, was spent on the project. "We were shocked by what we found on the ground.

The facilities available cannot be worth Shs2b," she said. The Telecentre began operating in March, 1999 through a partnership between the Uganda National Commission for United Nations Education and Scientific Organization (Unesco), Uganda Public Libraries Board (UPLB) and the Uganda Communications Commission.

Initial sources of funding were Unesco and International Telecommunication Union and the government of Uganda. From the outset, other institutions within the country were regarded as potential ICT players in the country.

The telecentre, however, is supported by grants, donations, partnerships, taxes, and fees charged for services. As of the fiscal year 2000/2001, all students in the Nakaseke sub-county were required to pay a tax of Shs900 per year in addition to their tuition fees. Income from the tax is to be applied to the Telecentre's operational budget.

This strategy was estimated to bring in over Shs4 million. The Nakaseke telecentre was one of the three major telecentres meant for the development of ICT in the country. The other two telecentres are Buwama in Mpigi and Nabweru in Wakiso.

The Monitor