Covid-19: UNDP donates ICT kit to government

Thursday April 9 2020

Chief. Ms Elsie Attafuah, the UNDP resident

Chief. Ms Elsie Attafuah, the UNDP resident representative. File photo 

By FRANKLIN DRAKU

The United Nations Development Programme, UNDP has donated an assortment of Information Communication and Technology to Ugandan valued at Shs2.3 billion as part of its mission to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and build resilience to crises and shocks.

The equipment include Zoom collaboration tool license and an assortment of ICT gadgets to enable virtual government business continuity as the novel coronavirus disease affects routine operations in several ministries, departments and agencies as well as the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

“In the package worth $600,000 (about Shs2.3 billion), UNDP Uganda has provided Zoom Collaboration Tool Licenses; and computers (laptops) and HD video conferencing cameras worth $97,035 (Shs 370 million),” a statement from the UNDP Uganda country office says.
Ms Elsie Attafuah, the UNDP resident representative, noted that the offer provides a paradigm shift in the way the government responds to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as deliver public services in a convenient, efficient customer-oriented and cost-effective way.

She said in so doing, UNDP is leveraging digital innovation to enable the government to maintain its core functions, and to plan, coordinate, communicate and finance its response to Covid-19 in a robust manner. This initiative is also expected to accelerate and promote e-governance in the medium-to-long term.
Ms Attafuah underscored that tackling Covid-19 – a crisis that transcends health – requires a whole-of-government and integrated crisis management response approach.

“The novel Covid-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War Two. I believe that UNDP’s support will improve coordination of Covid-19 response and recovery, strengthen service delivery in this critical time and drastically reduce physical contact to limit the spread of the disease. As always, UNDP is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for everyone, everywhere. We will continue to assist Uganda in overcoming the setbacks brought on by this epidemic,” she said.

Already over 81 government institutions including 40 districts had key officials registered and enabled to remotely video-conference in supporting government business continuity. Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of the President, Ministry of Local Government, and Ministry of ICT and National Guidance have already all been put on the system.

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Ministry of ICT and National Guidance has also instructed all this districts to ensure that all the key technical staff are registered on the zoom platform to ensure that they continue with their works.

In a letter dated April 6, 2020, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Mr. Vincent Bagiire Waiswa, wrote to all permanent secretaries, CEOs and accounting officers in all ministries, departments and agencies of Government and local governments announcing remote working modalities for public officers.

The President issued the first directives in response to Covid-19 on March 18, 2020 with the specific emphasis on decongesting key human collection areas such as schools, churches and mosques. On March 30, 2020, the President further directed that, among others, government workers stay home for 14 days except for the Army, the Police, the health workers, the electricity, water and telecommunications workers.

“In view of the above and the need for continuity of government business, the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance and the National Information Technology Authority - Uganda (NITA-U) working with the Office of the Prime Minister and with support from UNDP secured 10,000 Zoom video conferencing application licenses,” Mr. Bagiire wrote.

Mr James Saaka, the executive director of NITA-U welcomed the initiative saying, “It’s important that during the Covid-19 lockdown, government continues to coordinate its business and provide government services to its citizens, whilst working from home. Activation of usage of the Zoom tool in MDAs and LGs will enable this to happen. The Zoom tool enables seamless continuation of government business between government officials while working from home. We would like to thank UNDP for the support in terms of provision of Zoom enterprise licenses to make this happen,” he said.

UNDP has also, working with WHO, UNICEF and WhatsApp, created an information hub that will get real-time healthcare to billions around the world. The hub provides simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate. The site also offers general tips and resources for users around the world to reduce the spread of rumours and connect with accurate health information.

Officials from the UNDP say the UN agency is also working in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the UN Country Team in Uganda, to understand the social, economic and political impacts of the crisis, and to find ways to mitigate them with sustainable, resilient and rights-based solutions crafted with the public and private sectors.

New system

Innovations. Already over 81 government institutions including 40 districts had key officials registered and enabled to remotely video-conference in supporting government business continuity. Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of the President, Ministry of Local Government, and Ministry of ICT and National Guidance have already all been put on the system.

fdraku@ug.nationmedia.com

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