Refugee hosting districts around the country will soon be connected to high speed internet under the Uganda Digital Acceleration Project (UDAP-GOVNET).
According to Dr. Hatwib Mugasa, the Executive Director of the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-Uganda), the move aims at promoting digital inclusion in the 12 districts hosting refugees.
“We shall deploy 80 mobile broadband masts, purchase additional bandwidth, develop a telecentre for refugee hosting communities, set up an e-waste management centre and expand Wi-Fi hotspot sites,” Mugasa said.
Mugasa made this revelation while appeared before the Committee on ICT and National Guidance on Wednesday, 02 August 2023.
Mugasa said that the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank is satisfied with government’s refugee protection framework.
To ensure the success of the UDAP project, 53 district headquarters have been connected to the national backbone infrastructure (NBI) under the last mile connectivity project.
Another 61 local government sites have been connected.
Hon. Gorreth Namugga (NUP, Mawogola County South) put NITA-U to task on their impact on improving e-services within government.
“What brings about this complaint by local governments of the system being on and off? The infrastructure is there but I doubt that it is performing up to your expectation,” said Namugga, also Shadow Minister for Science, Innovation and Communication Technology.
Collin Babirukamu, the Director for E-government at NITA-U said the authority is providing a platform to integrate the different systems used at the administrative centres.
He said reducing the unit cost of a smartphone on the market will improve access to e-governance services.
“We still have taxes on these smartphones which are inhibiting e-government usage. We want to have all these services on a phone so that one can get a passport or driving permit on their mobile devices,” Babirukamu said.
Legislators, however, expressed concern on the level of security of Uganda’s internet backbone system.
Hon. Joyce Bagala (NUP, Mityana District Woman Representative) was not convinced by a NITA-U report indicating the cyber threat awareness to be at 87 per cent.
“Is the awareness really at this level? Because if it were, then the situation of issues that occur online would not be happening. There may be awareness but I am not convinced by your figure,” said Bagala.
Richard Obita, the Director for Planning, Research and Development at NITA-U said they have made deliberate efforts to sensitise the public on matters pertaining to cyber security.
“We hired a firm to do an independent assessment on awareness of cyber threats, as a requirement by the World Bank. This project was done across the country and we will share an analysis of the target respondents,” Obita added.