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Policy statement by Mr. Godfrey Mutabazi, Executive Director, Uganda Communications Commission at the WSIS+10 High Level Event

Tuesday, 30th September 2014

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

Eleven (11) years ago, as we discussed ICT inclusion, the focus of a number of national plans around the world was largely on increasing access to voice communication. Today, however, we all recognise that ICTs are a lot more than just telephony services.

We also thought in terms of fixed services and the industry provided a more commonly used alternative, especially in the developing parts of the world, in the form of mobile - both for voice and data services.

The Government of Uganda is aware of the immense benefits and opportunities ICTs accord us towards improving the livelihoods of our people. As such, Uganda¡¯s National Vision 2040 identifies ICTs among the key foundations to spur Uganda¡¯s transformation into a modern and prosperous country.

To date, Uganda has registered modest achievements against the WSIS targets that were to be achieved by 2015. With regard to infrastructure, Uganda has made strides through both government and private sector interventions resulting in border to border optical fibre connectivity.

While there is 100% voice coverage at sub county level, data penetration and subscription are still relatively low. However, 48.1% of Uganda's population is below 14 years of age, making the current phone penetration figures look reasonable.

The Government of Uganda and other stakeholders have undertaken a number of initiatives to incorporate ICTs in educations. Computer labs have been established in 1027 secondary schools and 51 higher institutions of learning around the country. In addition, Internet access is being rolled out to all these locations.

ICTs have themselves been incorporated in the education curriculum as a compulsory subject at secondary school level. There are also a number of initiatives by Government and other stakeholders geared are developing educational content.

Furthermore, the Research and Education Network of Uganda has been facilitated to link up with other research and education networks in sub Saharan Africa and with others in Europe.

Towards community access, the Government has complemented private sector efforts and facilitated the establishment of 105 community access points. 20 post offices have also been provided with ICT facilities.

A community ICT training programme was established by government in 2011 and has so far trained 28,000 people.

To improve the health services, 126 health centres have been provided with telemedicine facilities and internet access.

Additionally, the Government has itself embraced ICTs in its operations; establishing an e-government network that currently spans 30 Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Each of the 112 districts in Uganda also possesses a website.

Efforts made to build confidence in the use of ICTs include enacting cyber laws and establishing a Communications Sector Computer Emergency Response Team in partnership with ITU. A data protection law, a national information security framework and online child protection framework are also in the offing.

In the case of media, Uganda boasts of FM radio coverage of 81% though coverage and penetration of free to air television is still low.

Bringing ICTs to all global citizens necessitates ensuring the services are not only available but are also affordable, reliable, relevant and secure. This calls for the involvement of all of us – governments, industry, civil society, academia and stakeholders in other sectors.

The Government of Uganda, therefore, believes that ICTs should not be regarded as a luxury and should feature prominently as a priority in the Post 2015 Development Agenda. This will not only accord ICTs greater focus at the international level but facilitate its prioritisation at the national level.

Uganda also supports the collaboration through regional, continental and international joint initiatives towards creating an Information Society supported by a connected world.

Uganda applauds the progress made under WSIS towards achievement of the original objectives. We hope that the cooperation as well as commitment demonstrated by all stakeholders in getting to this point shall continue towards a seamless global digital unit.