ICT continues to grow amid low funding
Posted Tuesday, February 5 2013 at 02:00
Noticeable growth. Although the ICT sector is insufficiently funded, there has been some noticeable growth especially in the telecoms.
Uganda’s Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector continues to record good growth, propelling the country towards achieving an accomplished ICT enabled village in the near future.
However, the growth has been less prominent than expected due to the fact that the government has not delivered on some of the sectoral pledges.
A critical look on proceedings in 2012 shows how the government has failed to execute its investment pledges which include boosting the sector budget to finance major operations.
In the 2012/13 budget allotments, ICT was one of the least funded sectors, receiving about Shs 12 billion.
The allocation clearly contrasts considering the fact that ICT has in the last decade become an integral part of Uganda’s economy.
In an email to Prosper recently Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, the ICT minister said that even amidst low funding, the government had ICT among its priorities and was fully committed to see it flourish.
He said: “The government recognises ICT as a core growth sector. Funding for the sector does not only come from the government. Most of the activities in the sector currently are funded by the citizens, players and users of ICT services.”
The much publicised digital migration project has not been implemented as per the December 31, 2012 East Africa deadline.
Uganda is now considering to fast-track the project before the June 17, 2015 the global deadline.
The project requires all global broadcasters to have switched from analogue to digital migration.
While there has been regulatory and standardisation progress on the matter, the absence of funds has made the implementation of the switch impossible.
Mr Fred Otunnu, the head of communication at Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) -the migration regulator, recently told Prosper that even with limited financing; the commission had invested about Shs5.2 billion to ensure that Kampala and its environs in the radius of 150 kilometres switch to digital broadcasting.
“We intervened to fasten the implementation process. As we implement this, we hope that the government will invest in the signal distributor (Uganda Broadcasting Corporation) to implement the countrywide switch this year,” Mr Otunnu said.
Nonetheless, Mr Paul Kihika, the UBC managing director said UCC’s target to switch on Kampala was over ambitious before the end of this year.
Amidst all this, Dr Rugunda believes that Uganda was on course to meet the June 17, 2015 migration deadline.
He said: “All issues related to policy, regulatory and technical requirements have been addressed; the only thing remaining is the implementation.”