18 September 2007

Uganda: Only 7 Percent Use Mobile Phones Effectively

Kampala — ONLY 7% of the 94% people covered by the mobile telephone networks make effective use of the services, according to a top official.

This has been attributed to the high costs both for the providers of the services and the users of the mobile phone services, Dr. Harold Wesso, the deputy director general of the South African department of communication, said.

"However, it is not only Uganda but Africa as a whole still lags behind in the use of information and communication technologies.

"We are set to experience more problems in future if no solution is found," he said at the Highway Africa conference at Grahamstown, South Africa.

Wesso was presenting a paper on the theme "Digital Africa: Possibilities for Africa."

He said eastern and southern Africa had not established regional cable systems that would make use of information and communication technologies cheaper.

"In the region, there is the New Partnership for African Development initiative but few member countries have signed the organisation's protocol for the establishment of the cable that would reduce the costs of using ICTs.

"We want more countries to sign since the cable was planned to be completed by the year 2009, " he said.

"However, the national governments are required to establish national backbone infrastructures that would feed into the cable system."

Wesso urged Africa to look beyond the infrastructure and start considering implementing effective policies for the sector.

"The priority focus for the years 2007-2014 should be to increase the use of ICTs by making them affordable, getting ICT specialists who can develop and maintain the infrastructure," he added.

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