Leveraging on its Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, the government of President Museveni intends to create not less than 0.3m new well-paying jobs under the Digital Transformation Roadmap (DTR) which the Ministry PS Dr. Aminah Zawedde says will be launched and unveiled to Ugandans at a grand ceremony slated for August 17th.
Among other things, the DTR will enable the putting in place of core basic infrastructure required to secure affordable and reliable internet connectivity and access for a total of 600 public health facilities scattered in Uganda’s 146 Districts.
Dr. Aminah Zawedde’s ICT Ministry has been charged with the implementation of the 5 year DTR which will be running between 2023 and 2028. It will be the first of its kind for Uganda and a lot of service delivery transformation and efficiency is anticipated to result from Roadmap’s rolling out.
Dr. Zawedde says that the implementation and rolling out of the DTR will primarily be aimed at emancipating hitherto undeserved or unnserved Ugandan communities living in poverty-stricken, remote and hard to reach parts of the country. That way, the digital divide between poor and rich Ugandans respectively living in rural and urban areas, will be narrowed so that all the automation-related service delivery programs by the Ugandan government become more inclusive than has been the case.
UNDER NDP III, the ICTs (whose universal consumption and uptake Dr. Zawedde is primarily employed to ensure) are identified as a key enabler for all manner of economic activities as Uganda moves towards becoming an economically modern, more prosperous and inclusive country. And the launching of DTR is consistent with the obligations the NDP III imposes on the ICT Ministry.
Dr. Zawedde says that under DTR, a lot of prioritisation will be directed towards ensuring that the relevant infrastructure is affordably put in place as millions of Ugandans get sensitised and trained on how to effectively utilise and put to use all the digital capabilities their government is determined to put to their disposal. All Ugandans must be made to benefit from the benefits of the digital economy regardless of their background, where they live or operate from.
Under Dr. Aminah Zawedde is Amos Mpungu who serves as the Principal ICT Officer at the ICT Ministry who says the DTR is broadly aimed at facilitating and enabling millions of Ugandans to affordably benefit from the deliberate digitization of public services by the GoU. Mpungu explains that the DTR is anchored on five pillars namely enabling access to digital services, development of the relevant infrastructure, cyber security, skills development, innovation & entrepreneurship.
Mpungu elaborates that under the same DTR, the ICT Ministry will be deliberately undertaking putting in place adequate internet cables, wireless-enabled options and optic fibers in each and every district of Uganda. The internet connectivity benefiting the 600 public health facilities (mainly district level-based general hospitals) and educational institutions in the 146 districts is equally part of the Ministry’s obligations under the 5 year DTR.
The Ministry will equally be obliged to spearhead the enactment of policies and regulatory frameworks that can result into reduced operational costs so that private internet providers like MTN and Airtel are enabled to offer millions of their customers low cost and more affordable internet access. Under the same DTR framework, the ICT Ministry will be harmonising all the existing laws and policies to bring them in harmony with the contemporary times while reflecting contemporary challenges, advantages and opportunities for the different players.
Working with local governments and the relevant MDAs, the ICT Ministry will equally be obligated under the DTR to strengthen the already existing digital capabilities including the egp through which a growing number of government MDAs are currently able to electronically conduct public procurements.
Mpungu further explains that under the same intervention, the ICT Ministry will be undertaking awareness creation programs aimed at sensitising ordinary Ugandans about their service delivery-related rights and how to use the new digital capabilities their government is deliberately continuing to put in place.
Yet that isn’t all under this component. The ICT Ministry will also be sending out teams to train Ugandans operating in both formal and informal sector spaces on how to make use of the digital capabilities their government has been and will continue making available to them. Mobile trucks are going to be put in place to facilitate such outreach activities and training of Ugandans in the different parts of the country as opposed to focusing only on those in Kampala and other major cities.
The Ministry of Education will thickly be involved partnering to enable the ICT Ministry benefit from the large network of learners and younger Ugandans accesible through educational institutions from the lowest level to University.
Mpungu says that to consolidate things in this training and skilling aspect, the ICT Ministry will be establishing more and deepening access to facilities like the Nakawa-based national ICT Hub through which hundreds of younger Ugandan innovators with marketable and commercializable ideas continue to be supported to operationalize their solutions.
Operated under Uganda Institute of Information & Communication Technology (UICT), the Nakawa-based ICT Hub has been used by the ICT Ministry (acting on behalf of the GoU) to enable hundreds of young and starting capital-constrained Ugandan innovators to access and rent affordable office space from where they keep operating while learning from their peers which in the end leads to additional innovation skills’ acquisition.
Amos Mpungu explains that this model is immediately going to be replicated and decentralised to benefit more younger innovators in the upcountry regions. And this is going to be achieved through establishing similar ICT Hubs at Kabale University (for Western Uganda), Arua-based Muni University (for West Nile & Greater North) and Soroti University (to cater for communities in the far East).
Yet there is much more to that. Post Office buildings upcountry are going to be taken advantage of by putting in place “One-Stop-Digital Centers” across the country to demystify digitisation while increasing ordinary Ugandans’ access to the same. All said and done, the ICT Ministry is projecting creation of not less than 0.3m decent, gainful and well-paying jobs by the time the 5 year Digital Transformation Roadmap is fully rolled out across the country.
This will not only be consistent with Gen Museveni’s NRM 2021 election Manifesto but will also amplify the gains resulting from NITA-Uganda’s determination to gradually keep lowering the data or internet access costs. Only last week, NITA-U proclaimed reduction in data or internet costs for all government MDAs from USD70 (260,000) to USD35 (130,000) per pmbs. The GoU, through the ICT Ministry, is determined to keep lowering this same cost even more in the coming months and years. All this is aimed at making life better for the citizens of Uganda. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 041 4674611 or email us at email@example.com).