Uganda takes Information and Communication Technologies to consist of hardware, software, networks, and media for collection, storage, processing, transmission, and presentation of information (voice, data, text, images).
The ICT sector in Uganda has been vibrant and dynamic. It has now turned into an inevitable tool of socio-economic development. The success of this sector hinges largely on the good legal and regulatory frameworks as well as other policies like Privatisation and Liberalisation. By its cross cutting nature the Government considers Information. Communications Technology as a Primary Growth Sector as demonstrated in the National Philosophy on ICT. According to the Ministerial Policy Statement for FY 2014/15, the ICT sector share of Uganda’s stood at 6.0% of National GDP. The Uganda Communication Commission figures show the communication sector takes the largest share of 3.26%. This sector employed over one million people.
The general trends in this sector have seen recognisable characteristics aimed at:
- Increased access to ICT services
Increased access to ICT services by citizens locally, regionally and internationally
Most of Services Providers has attained national coverage of over 80% and all the switches are digital. The TV digital migration was successfully completed
- Strategic policies and regulatory environment geared at facilitating the digital age put in place
The Uganda Communications Act of 2013 mandates the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to among other functions;
- Regulate rates and charges for communication services with a view to protect consumers from excessive tariffs and unfair competitive practices – see section 5 (e) of the Act.
- Promote competition including the protection of operators from acts and practices of other operators that are damaging to competition and facilitate entry of new and modern systems
National Information Technology Agency –Uganda (NITA-U) has both local and international Partners that assist to knowledge transfer and collaboration. Some of these are ICT Association of Uganda; Uganda Business Processing Association, National Information Security Group etc On the international NITA-U collaborate with Information Technology Institute of Egypt. National Information Society of Cameroon, National IT Promotion Agency (NIPA) of South Korea, Korea International Agency(KOICA) and Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation to mention a few
- Introducing ICT in schools at all levels as well as in the centres of higher learning.
Most of Public schools and the majority of Private schools have Computer laboratories where ICT related courses are introduced to pupils and students and an early stage
- Development of professional IT skills as post primary institutions
There is a limited number of Vocational Institutions that ground people in relevant soft and Hard IT engineering skills required for computer applications, electronics testing software engineering etc. The Nation has a big gap in this area and no statistical figures to support the existence of these skills are available. However a few branches of Private Indian Institutions have been established.
- Using ICT to improve policy delivery efficiency, effectiveness and competitiveness of the business sector
There is wide use of Mobile Money, Increased use of e e-commerce, e-tax, e – visa, e-registration and the Virtual One-Stop-Center at Uganda Investment Authority.
- The use of ICT as a business productivity tool. IT/ITES Services
The specific share of IT within the ICT sector is difficult to assess in the absence of meaningful statistics. Ugandan’s Information Technology & Information Technology Enabling Services(IT&ITES) industry is at an early stage of its development. As a result, little data is available on the industry, such as number of players, their revenues, the number of employees and the skill set available. The problem is compounded by the fact that many (smaller) companies are not prepared to make themselves known to government registration services, amongst other reasons to escape the long arm of the taxation office. The current estimate of the number of employed ITES operatives is between 2500 and 4000(Source NITA-U) persons.
- Creating jobs for the citizens
The ICT sector employs over one million people. The growth of Business Process Outsourcing and Knowledge Management Process
PLAYERS IN THE ICT SECTOR
The Government policy is to have an ICT industry that is private sector-driven, with the Government’s role being to create an enabling environment.
The public or Government’s involvement in the sector today is primarily one of the following:
- The Government of Uganda (Ministry of Information Communication Technology) sets an enabling policy and legal frameworks. Government is favoring policies and strategies that promote the participation of the private sector in a competitive environment and may in case of national interest pursue a policy and strategy that calls for Public Private Partnerships PPP’s.
- The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is an independent regulator to oversee and promote development of the communication sector (Telephony and Broadcasting and news publication ) in the country including the rural areas.
- The National Informational Technology Agency (NITA) for IT standards , procedure guidance ,Business Process Outsourcing Development , National Backbone Infrastructure Development and E-Government Services as well as being the focal point for the ICT export Strategic Intervention Programme by Development Partners like International Trade Center (ITC)
- Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) for promoting and facilitating investment opportunities in the sector
- The Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST) for initiation and development of technology.
- Post Primary Institutions Tertiary Institutions for the production of manpower
- The Private Sector as the major investors in the sector
- Development Partners as the supporter in technology and sector development programs
NATIONAL STRATEGIES ON INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY
The Strategy to development a robust and vibrant sector was divided into two A Governance and B Infrastructure Development
A. The Government has developed a National ICT Policy and Master Plan. The ICT policy strategies are to:
- Have a good National ICT Policy and associated Legal Frame work
- Develop Uganda’s ICT Master plan
- Create a robust and sustainable ICT sector
- Increase the use of ICT as an abler for socio-economic development and poverty eradication
- Increase the ICT skilled workforce
- Develop a world-class culture of ICT innovations
- Create a good environment for the development of ICTs
- Create a knowledge Society
- Improve the National Services Deliveries through ICT
This is an all-inclusive policy that is participatory and regularly reviewed to meet the market demands
B. Infrastructure development and services delivery by the private Sector through
- National Telecommunications Operators, one currently partially privatized
- Mobile telephone operators
- Internet Services Providers (ISPs) with some are having International Data Gateway facilities for themselves and other ISPs.
- Radio Stations
- Television Stations.( Public/ Private) Public Internet Cafes operators
- National Postal operator
- Postal Couriers
- Private voice and data service providers.
- Private Radio Communications users.
- IT Solutions Companies
- ICT Associations and Forums also affiliated to international associations
- Individual experts and consultants
The table below shows the categories and number of Licensed Operators in the Communications sector
[table id=51 /]
Table 1(Source UCC 2016)
Uganda has carried out privatisation reforms which have produced remarkable success in the ICT Sector. The policy of private sector propelled economy has to some extent produced remarkable results. the performance of the ICT sector is being rated as encouraging and noticeable in e-finance, global connectivity and online trade. There is sizable growth in e-business transactions between Ugandan companies and oversees companies noticeably of Middle East, Europe and Asia.
The local Telemarketing through SMS FM radios and Digital TV Stations is playing a big role in economic development and poverty eradication. Efforts by the Government towards e-governance, the rural transformation, financing frame works and Global Distance learning are some of the good performance indictors in the sector.
There are 22,973,902 mobile and fixed telephony subscribers in Uganda. This put the country tele – density at 64.3(UCC report September 2015) The number of mobile money subscribers grew by 0.02 % up from 19.5m to 19.9m subscribers. The number of transactions grew from UGX165mto UGX185mresulting to a 11.7% growth. The value of transactions increased from UGX 7.6trillion to UGX8.7trillion, resulting to a 15.9% growth. The balance on customer accounts grew by 0.19% from UGX 253.4billion to UGX302.6billion (Source BOU), The number of mobile money agents grew by 0.09 % from 96,463 to105, 304 in the last quarter of the 2015 calendar year (Source UCC.)
The communications infrastructure network put in place by the major operators (MTN Uganda, Uganda Telecom Africell, `Airtel) today covers almost all the districts in the country with more than 90% of all the PSTN switching systems digital. There are optical fiber links connecting Kampala City to Entebbe and Jinja, which are the major centres of economic activities, with further expansions currently underway to link to Masaka and Mbarara in the west and Iganga and Busia in the east as well as the other districts of the country. There is also extensive use of microwave in the backbone infrastructure and V-sat Services. Inter-terrestrial digital networks for pay TV are commonly visible
Within Kampala, optic fiber rings have been installed in the Central Business District. This has greatly improved the quality of the services. The national and regional transmission links are to a great extent digital. Our international Gateways are today mainly by connection to the world optic fiber networks at the India ocean town of Mombasa
The Data networks though cover mainly the urban areas it is a deliberate Government Policy through the Uganda Communications Commission to points of presence in all the districts. Services through Stem 4 and E1 are now available to districts
Uganda has started to exploit the local and global business opportunities. With the current status of the ICT Sector in Uganda the following business opportunity is available at NITA-U. NITA-U Plans to create an ICT Park for innovation and Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) and Knowledge Management Process Outsourcing companies will incubated in one location as below:
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