Speeches and Presentations

Speech by Hon. Frank tumwebaze, Minister for ict and national guidance at The official opening of the 10th annual capacity africa 2016 held at the Speke Resort, Munyonyo September 27-28, 2016

Wednesday, 28th September 2016 | Speke Resort, Munyonyo

Dear Colleagues
- Distinguished Delegates
- Ladies and Gentlemen
- All protocols observed

I am honoured to address you at the official opening of the 10th annual Capacity Africa. I would like to welcome all of you to Uganda,"The Pearl of Africa".
As a country, we are glad to have been honoured to host Capacity Africa 2016 at a time when this event is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Please feel at home and we shall do everything possible to make your stay in Kampala a memorable one. It is, indeed, an honour for me to address you this morning.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not the first time we are hosting such a high-level event. Over the years, especially since the hosting of CHOGM in 2007, we have hosted a number of ICT-related august events.

Therefore, holding such high-profile meetings again demonstrates the trust and confidence the international community has in Uganda. It also enhances our country's profile as a stable and investment-worth destination.

Distinguished delegates, for many years Uganda has been an active participant in many telecommunications events and, as a country, we have benefited greatly from such discourses, hence been able to develop our communications sector.

The agenda for Capacity Africa 2016 is rich in content and offers the opportunity to review the present status and chart the way forward. I trust that with such an audience of experts, this meeting will produce the desirable outcome on issues pertinent to our communications industry in Uganda, across Africa and the globe in general.

In Uganda, we take the development of our communications sector seriously. In 1998, the Government of Uganda took a conscious decision to fully liberalize the sector. Since 2006 Uganda has opened up the sector fully to competition.

Since then, we have been implementing a flexible, transparent and scalable policy frameworks geared to the demands of modern markets through technology-neutral and service-neutral approaches.
I am glad to note that Uganda was among the first countries in the developing world to make underserved communities a concrete policy priority, and to set up a sustainable framework to support ongoing network rollout and service provision, through the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) universal access programme.

We have embraced highly innovative ICT development models that harness the skills and resources of private sector partners to create winning strategies that benefit all. With regard to bridging the Digital Divide, Uganda stands out as a shining beacon of what can be achieved, given the right policies and political will.

In rural Uganda, we have succeeded in extending ICT access to all districts through public facilities like optic-fibre backbone, digital broadcasting, and a host of Over the Top (OTT) and Internet of Things services. Our ICT training centres are now helping building capacity among grassroots communities, while providing a livelihood for the local entrepreneurs who run them.

All this has been possible due to a combination of vision; strong political support; regulatory innovation and best practice; and the development of a clear national development strategy.
We are optimistic that the new, higher speed wireless technologies such as LTE, will help us further leverage our mobile base to drive up wireless broadband and enhance the range and quality of services.

While there has also been a significant growth in Internet usage in Uganda, there has been limited growth in Satellite-based international bandwidth. This is understandable at the dawn of undersea cable systems in East Africa, such as EASSy and Seacom, which are likely to ensure better and more affordable Internet services.
Distinguished delegates, technology underpins the unprecedented levels of prosperity enjoyed by the developed countries. As such, ICT is an enabler of globalisation, facilitating worldwide flows of information, capital, ideas people and products.

This is especially so with regard to recent advances in ICT, especially the widespread use of VoIP, and the move to IP-based or next generation networks (NGN).
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Government of Uganda is an active actor in telecommunications developments on this continent, and we plan to remain active.

Regionally and globally, Uganda supports the creation of a harmonized legislative and regulatory frameworks and integrated and interconnected networks. This will ensure the creation of a single liberalized telecommunications market. Accordingly, Uganda is an active player/member to ICT related organization such as the International Telecommunication Union, Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization, International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, and East African Communications Organization just to mention but a few.
At the policy level, the mandate of my ministry is to digitally empower citizens by extensive use of ICT to improve their living conditions by electronically delivering transformative services. Our mission is to provide leadership and enabling environment for promotion of ICT as an industry and enabler for the transformation of Uganda into a knowledge-based economy. It's for this reason that we put ICT advancements at the centre of transformation on how governments and private sector operate.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Government of Uganda has prioritised ICT as a key enabler of socio-economic transformation and development programmes. This is well articulated in the National Development Plan 2010/2015, the Vision 2040, and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Manifesto.

In addition, the ICT sector investment Plan (SIP) 2015/2016-2019-2020); has identified ICT infrastructure as a foundational support for ICT Development and Research, Innovation and Development as an enabler of ICT growth and utilisation. According to the ICT Sector Strategic and Investment Plan, we hope to achieve four outcomes by 2020:

  • Increased access and usage of ICT equipment and devices;
  • Achieve an average ICT GDP growth annually to 20%;
  • Improved access to high-speed broadband services to facilitate communications, economic activities and service delivery, and;
  • Overall improvement of Uganda's ranking on global ICT indices.

As such my Ministry is at the forefront of implementing the initiatives aimed at achieving these outcomes. So far, we registered significant achievements
True, Uganda's global rankings still leave a lot to be desired. This not-so-good situation can be explained by a number of challenges faced by the ICT sector in Uganda. These include: -

  • Inadequate ICT infrastructure;
  • High-cost of ICT services relative to other countries in the region;
  • Limited local and relevant content;
  • Inadequate human resources;
  • Low levels of ICT awareness, and;
  • Inadequate ICT-related research, innovation and development.

However, we have made significant inroads towards developing a robust communications industry. In addition to the achievements mentioned above, we have taken steps to address cyber threats that come with increased access to the Internet and connectivity, we have put in place Cyber laws as well as established the Computer Emergence Response Team (CERT).

Also, the government will soon launch free WiFi services to targeted locations in Uganda, starting with Kampala in a bid to increase the access and use of internet in delivery of electronic government services.
Importantly, the Government of Uganda has earmarked funds to support youth innovators and to set up at least ICT parks. We have so far set up a national ICT Innovators Forum whose secretariat is at UCC.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I do not intend to take any more of your time, as I realise that you have a busy schedule before you. Looking over the programme, I see a cream of experts who are keen to share their latest expertise in this area.

I am sure that during the time you are here, both during the formal sessions and in the corridors, you shall share many new ideas that will enable us to address the ICT development challenges and needs for our continent.

With those remarks, it is now my pleasure and privilege to declare Capacity Africa 2016 officially open.