KAMPALA – Last month, National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) recognised and awarded government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) for playing a remarkable role in availing online government services to the public.
Through NITA-U mandated by NITA-U Act 2009, Uganda government has since established an E-Government Portal which is www.gou.go.ug.
The portal hosts all the information from government ministries, departments and agencies posted online and people can seek services such as passport, visa, and construction permit applications, taxation among other services online.
More than 45 government agencies have already put information online and according to NITA most foreigners coming to Uganda are now using the portal to apply for visa and work permits.
While presiding over the E-Government Excellence Awards recently at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda said the government MDAs that were nominated for the awards, are the ones that have been outstanding in digitizing services and bringing these services online.
He said the public should be aware of the role that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) plays in transforming the lives and easing service delivery.
“The NRM government recognises ICT as one of the key drivers of efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery, production processes and communication,” he said.
Dr Rugunda said government identified the ICT sector as one of the four key priority sectors positioned to jump-start Uganda’s social-economic development. And that ICT based innovations provide a critical ingredient(s) for the key growth sectors of Uganda’s economy,
He added that there have been deliberate efforts to grow the ICT sector in order to harness the incredible potential it brings to our development agenda.
“The NRM government liberalised the ICT sector from state monopolies as early as 1994 in order to speed up technology and internet penetration. NRM showed its commitment to this sector by creating a dedicated Ministry, The Ministry of ICT and National Guidance and the establishment of the National Information and Communication Technology Authority of Uganda to facilitate this process,” Dr Rugunda added.
The Ministry of ICT has for time, notably, playing a role in supporting creativeness of Uganda especially the youth through innovations. On the other hand, NITA-Uganda is integrating all government systems to enhance government service delivery to citizens, non-citizens, businesses and to Government MDAs.
This integration promises access to all government services via an e-citizen web portal, www.ecitizen.go.ug.
At the perspective of Internet penetration in the country, there are more than 22 million mobile phone subscribers with 18 million of the subscriber base are internet users. However, the cost of Internet in Uganda is still high, a problem NITA-Uganda is trying to fight.
NITA-Uganda and the Ministry of ICT are trying to increase Internet penetration in Uganda by reducing on the cost of internet in the first place.
With the introduction of the NBI Project (Optic Fiber Network) which is currently in its fourth phase, there is a possibility that Internet costs are going to reduce.
In a recent interview with media, NITA-Uganda executive director Mr Mr James Saaka, said the government plans on reducing the cost of internet such that more people can have access to it.
“I appeal to all government MDAs and local governments to use this NITA-Uganda Internet. Not only for its quality and speed but because it saves government a lot of money. Cheaper Internet means we can serve Ugandans more efficiently while saving our much needed funds,” he said.
The government, according to Dr Rugunda will continue to support the use e-Government to enhance service delivery.
“The growth of e-Government does not only improve service delivery in the pure sense, it is also an important enabler in the fight against corruption,” he said.
According to NITA-U, by the end of five years, Ugandans will be able to access all government service information on the phone.
The system, NITA-U said has improved the livelihoods of citizens because they are spending little time going to government offices and has saved the government money in terms of limiting printing among others.