KAMPALA — Uganda’s online service index has improved from 56.94% in 2018 to 58.24% in 2020 which maintains the country in high online service index bracket, the United Nations has indicated in an E-Government survey 2020.
The Online Services Index is a component of the E-Government Development Index(EGDI) which is a composite indicator measuring the use of ICTs by governments in delivering public services at the national level.
The development examines how digital technologies and innovations are impacting the public sector and changing people’s everyday lives.
The UN report has since named Uganda among the promising examples of countries that offer online services above the average despite being landlocked and/or least developed.
The report expounds that Uganda’s success derives in part from the existence of comprehensive digital government strategies supported by forward-looking digital government plans aligned with their national policies and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Survey is the only global report that assesses the e-government development status of all member States of the United Nations.
The reports whose results are tabulated and presented as a set of standardized index values on a scale has shown that Uganda’s e-government development index also improved from 40.55 in 2018 to 44.99% in 2020, which is above the African average of 39.14%.
James Saaka the outgoing Executive Director NITA-U, attributes the growth to Government’s deliberate efforts to automate majority of its systems to ensure that citizens can access Government services efficiently.
“Through Technical support from NITA-U, a number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have taken services online which has resulted into the automation of processes and development of services which are already improving efficiency and transparency. In addition we have set up an E-Citizens portal which is a one-stop online center for Government online services. To date, 106 MDA have informational and transactional services may be accessed through this portal’’ said Saaka.
He adds that a number of electronic services for Government have been launched and operationalized. A government-wide messaging system-UMCS has been established and rolled out in 37 entities to provide standardized and secure email for all Government communications.
NITA-U and Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development (MoFPED) have rolled out e-PAY, an electronic payment gateway that enables online payments for all public services.
Additionally, NITA-U now provides subsidized SMS services which public entities are utilizing to provide USSD services, Bulk SMS notifications among others.
The Electronic services have been key in the fight against COVID-19. For example, the Office of the Prime Minister has a citizen fundraising platform aimed at mobilizing resources and funds to boost the coronavirus fight in the country, the system utilizes the national payment gateway to enable citizens support the Covid-19 fight.
According to the UN report, there was improvement in the Telecommunications Index from 15.66 percent in 2018 to 22.78 percent in 2020.
Telecommunications, access to digital technologies and E-government growth has a direct impact on GDP per capita, economy wide productivity and female labor force participation to mention but a few metrics.
Research carried out by the Global systems for Mobile Communications Association GSMA found out that a 4.2% increase in mobile penetration leads to an up to 10% increase in economy wide productivity.
Research also shows that GDP per capita in 96 developed and developing countries rose by 0.5 percentage points after a doubling of mobile data use.
Research from the SSA region shows that female labor force participation also rises with increased access to digital technologies such as broadband internet
According to Saaka, the Ugandan Government deliberately invested in the National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) aiming to ensure effective service delivery riding off the robust infrastructure. the NBI is fully operational with 4000 kilometers of fiber laid across 49 districts with 480 government offices connected including seven major border points. The Last mile Project that will connect 1000 more sites across 58 districts to the network is already underway.
With a project underway to integrate all government IT systems to enable data sharing across Ministries, Departments & Authorities in a rational, secure and efficient way, such that citizens are able to access government services conveniently without delays caused by lack of data and data verification process, Uganda is headed on the right path and its EGDI and OSI are set to improve much further.