Chinese Firm to Undertake Uganda National ICT backbone Project

Tuesday, 20th September, 2011

The Uganda National data transmission backbone infrastructure and e-government project will become operational in October, a top official has said.

Dr. James Saaka, the head of the National Information Technology Authority (NITA), told MPs on the parliamentary committee on ICT that the initiative would decrease government operational costs and increase Internet access in remote areas.

It will also check absenteeism in government departments and agencies, connect all districts to the Internet and provide low-cost bandwidth throughout the country.

"Our major duty is to run ICT services and to ensure that the backbone is operation next month," Saaka told MPs during a field tour of the project sites in Kampala on Friday.

"The backbone will influence the decrease in Internet charges for government and increase efficiency in service delivery," he added.

While testing the tele and video-conferencing equipment as an e-government component, Dr. Pat Samanya, the ICT ministry permanent secretary, told the legislators that the equipment would also reduce misuse of public resources.

"This project will help us know that one is at their desk or not," Samanya noted as he explained to the MPs how the tele-conference facility works.

The first phase of the project, which included the laying of 168 kilometre of optic fibre cable, connecting Kampala, Mukono, Entebbe, Bombo and Jinja, was completed in June 2008. It covers 27 ministries.

Phase two of the project is in the completion stage with 1,369 kilometre of cable laid to connect Busia, Malaba, Tororo, Mbale, Kumi, Soroti, Lira, Gulu, Masindi, Nakasongola, Luweero, Kyenjojo, Kasese, Fort Portal, Bushenyi and Mbarara.

Despite the initial challenges, the MPs observed that the project was a good initiative by the Government in reducing burgeoning administrative costs.

"Once implemented, the facility should be installed in our committee rooms so that government officials do not have to come to Parliament. This will also save their travel time," Paula Turyahikayo, the committee vice-chairperson, pointed out.

Turyahikayo advised government ministries to hook onto the national ICT backbone to cut on the cost of communication.

The project is being undertaken by Huawei Technologies, a Chinese firm.

By Raymond Baguma: The New Vision Newspaper

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