By Samuel Kamugisha
In September 2021, a new Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Board of Directors was inaugurated. UCC is responsible for regulating the Communications Sector, whose components include telecommunications, broadcasting, radio communication, postal communications, data communication and infrastructure.
The current UCC Board, which line Minister Dr Chris Baryomunsi described as comprising members of high caliber who the Museveni Government, through the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, was committed to supporting, oversees the implementation of the Commission’s policies and programs and is responsible for guiding and steering UCC’s strategy.
Chaired by Eng Dr Dorothy Okello Kabagaju, the UCC Board’s other members are: Dr Jimmy Pat Saamanya, Enoch Barata, Lucy Ntabazi, Edson Ngirabakunzi, Eng Paul Odoi and Eng Geoffrey Agoi and Eng Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo. The following submission captures what ought to be known about each of these eminent Commission leaders or Directors:
ENG DR DOROTHY OKELLO: BOARD CHAIRPERSON
An accomplished academic and researcher, Dr Okello is the Dean of Makerere University’s School of Engineering as well as a respected researcher with netLabs!UG, a research centre within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. netLabs!UG seeks to offer a balanced critical mass of research, innovation and commercialization in communications and networking.
A professionally recognized engineer (who is registered with the Engineers Registration Board – ERB) and a PhD holder, the UCC Board boss also serves as the Director of Innovation at ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), an initiative of Makerere University’s School of Public Health, which is supported by USAID with the aim of identifying, developing and scaling innovative solutions meant to strengthen the resilience of African communities afflicted by natural and man-made shocks and stresses. Okello has been steering the RAN team to apply science, technology, innovation and partnerships, as well as use evidence-based approaches to find ways of dealing with – and managing effects of – calamities.
Dr Okello holds a Bachelor of Science Engineering (Electrical – First Class Hons) from Makerere University; a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering at the University of Kansas in the United States where she was a Fulbright Scholar; and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Canada’s McGill University where she was a Canadian Commonwealth Scholar. A member of the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers (UIPE), Okello was this institution’s president from 2016 until 2018.
Overall, the UCC Board boss has held various leadership roles over the past two decades. She is experienced in the areas of teaching and research. She has also made praiseworthy contributions and input on a number of projects and policies. Okello has also sat on boards of various organizations in the fields of education, telecommunications, ICT, banking and innovation.
She has used her experience and skills to push for policies to ensure that more women, small-scale enterprises and rural communities engage in innovation for development.
DR JIMMY PAT SAAMANYA: MEMBER
Dr Saamanya boasts of nearly four decades of experience in public service, most of which has been in agriculture and ICT. Between 2007 and 2016, Saamanya served as Permanent Secretary and Accounting Officer for the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance. In this role, he steered the operations of the ministry, the implementation of the policies of the Government of Uganda as well as the formulation and/or review of national policies, strategic plans, laws and regulations pertaining to the ICT sector.
Before his decade-long service as PS, Saamanya had worked in the agriculture and animal industry sector for two decades. During his service, he spearheaded the development and implementation of the National Dairy Development Policy and Act 2001, among other notable contributions.
ENOCK BARATA: MEMBER
A Senior Partner at M/s Birungyi, Barata & Associates, Barata has a wealth of knowledge and experience in legal matters.
Currently the head of the legal firm’s Banking, Corporate and Commercial and Litigation Departments, the UCC Board member is a trained lawyer and Advocate of the Courts of Judicature. He acquired specialized training in Finance and Financial Law from the Centre for Finance and Management Studies at the University of London.
In his two-decade legal career experience so far, Barata has represented several clients in various matters such as complex corporate transactions, finance, lending, mergers and acquisitions, as well as insurance, among others.
He also advises top and reputable companies, banks, insurance companies, government ministries, public agencies and multinational corporations both in Uganda and sub-Saharan Africa.
Throughout his work, he has distinguished himself as an astute professional lawyer, corporate consultant and a general commercial transactions lawyer. Little wonder that President Museveni’s ruling party chose Barata to head the NRM Election Disputes Tribunal.
A member of the Uganda Law Society, the East African Law Society, the International Bar Association, Tax Planet and the Institute of Corporate Governance of Uganda, Barata has also served as a non-executive Director and as Executive Director on several boards in the Banking, Insurance and Communications Regulation Sector.
EDSON NGIRABAKUNZI: MEMBER
Ngirabakunzi is a human rights scholar with vast experience in influencing inclusive policies across sectors. An expert in human resource management and programme management, Ngirabakunzi holds a Master’s in Human Rights and, by the time of his appointment, he was already pursuing a PhD in employment rights of vulnerable people in Uganda, particularly people with disabilities.
Besides influencing policies at both national and international level, Ngirabakunzi has also monitored World Bank funded projects in Uganda and held several meetings with the World Bank leadership with the aim of promoting inclusion.
He has equally conducted research on a number of issues and has also co-authored articles on health and economic empowerment. Ngirabakunzi has also been an active participant in research on accessible ICT for persons with disabilities in Uganda.
ENG PAUL ODOI
A professional engineer with over 16 years’ experience in the ICT sector, Eng Odoi is a registered professional engineer and a member of UIPE.
He holds a Diploma in Spectrum Management from the United States Telecommunications Training Institute, a post graduate Diploma in Project Planning and Management from the Uganda Management Institute (UMI), a Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering from Makerere University, as well as various equipment certifications from Huawei University, China.
He is very experienced and skilled in ICT Policy Development and Implementation; ICT Strategy Formulation, Project Planning and Management; Corporate Governance and design of optical fibre networks, among others.
UCC’s Board is not the first one on which Eng Odoi is serving. From 2010 to 2018, he served as Board Member of Uganda Posts Ltd. He has also represented the Government of Uganda on various technical committees within the country and abroad.
One of his current assignments is the development and implementation of National Standards, Policies and Strategies in ICT.
The Commissioner in charge of ICT Infrastructure Development in the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Agoi is responsible for provision of strategic technical leadership in the determination, formulation and implementation of Government policies on development and management of ICT infrastructure used for telephony, data and radio communications in the country.
Apart from his admirable leadership skills, Agoi is sought after because of his strong research abilities for both applied and scientific fields. He also boasts of about two decades of experience in addition to more than 18 years of demonstrable post qualification experience in public policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering, a Master’s in Business Administration, a Master of Science in Data Communications and Software Engineering, as well as a Post Graduate Diploma in Information Technology. He is also a professional member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE).
ENG IRENE KAGGWA SEWANKAMBO
The current Executive Director of Uganda Communications Commission, Eng Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo also serves as the Director for Engineering and Communication Infrastructure at the Commission.
Vastly experienced in ICT sector work, Eng Kaggwa is an expert in policy development, research, regulation and implementation in various aspects such as internet development, licensing, universal access, quality of service, numbering resource management, as well as promotion of research and innovation.
She holds a Master of Science in Communications Systems and Signal Processing from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, a Master of Science in Economic Management and Policy (Business Economic Pathway) from the University of Strathclyde, also in the United Kingdom, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Uganda’s Makerere University.