13 January 2013

Uganda: Nation Makes Strides in ICT

Kampala — There is no doubt that Uganda has made big strides in Information and Communications Technology.

The sector has evolved greatly comparing to the previous years. Many telecommunication companies have been opened shop; projects like e-government have been introduced, a sign showing that Ugandans have greatly embraced technology.

Today many of Uganda's education centers have Information Technology as a major course on the syllabus. The sector in the year, Uganda was ranked among the top three countries with advanced technology and innovation capabilities in Africa.

This was according to studies that were conducted by Martin Prosperity Institute of the United States. And globally Uganda was among the 82 World countries that had advanced technologically.

The ICT minister DR. Ruhakana Rugunda then attributed Uganda's success to universities and tertiary institutions that engaged students fully in information technology.

The first Micro Soft Innovation Centre (MIC) was also opened up in the same year. This is an innovation supposed to focus on skill building, creating jobs and fostering innovations.

About the centre, Rugunda affirmed that it would provide support to small medium enterprises, independent soft ware vendors and also encourage student collaborations.

This innovation was as result of partnership of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Microsoft to establish a technical cooperation program.

In the year, Ugandans invented a hand held pregnancy scan like machine called the Winsenga.

The year 2012 also saw the government through the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ministry launch a plan that was to implement the e-government as a way of improving efficiency and delivery of public services.

The government collaborated with South Korea which agreed to offer technical assistance to develop a comprehensive ICT master plan for Uganda, covering and integrating the economy.

They both shared knowledge on how to implement the e-government and Hyunn Seek Lee the vice president National IT Promotion Agency (NIPA) of South Korea, promised to help Uganda use ICT to improve administrative efficiency.

The Uganda communications centre UCC also started up a war against all counterfeit phones and other fake telecommunication devices.

In a public statement to major vendors like ZTE and Huwaei, Godfrey Mutabazi the UCC executive director said that fake mobile phones that didn't meet the stipulated international standards should not be imported into Uganda.

While the initiative by UCC and the vendors was viewed as a positive step, it faces serious challenges in enforcement as the standard watch dogs like UCC, NEMA, and UNBS were looked at as having failed to manage their various sector dockets.

In the year, telecommunication companies that charged users on dropped calls and sent them unsolicited SMS messages, were warned against exploiting customers and were promised to face a penalty, according to the executive director of Uganda Communication Commission, Godfrey Mutabazi.

Also in 2012, two telecommunication companies entered the Ugandan market making the number of known operators seven. Suretelcom and K2 telecom entered the market.

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