KAMPALA — The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) through its rural development arm, the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) has deployed WiFi hotspots to five boarder points across the country to enable people transiting through the border posts to communicate, facilitate business and support the fight against COVID-19.
The WiFi hotspots project launched at the UCC head office on Wednesday would see five entry points including Mutukula (Kyotera); Vurra (Arua); Malaba (Tororo); Elegu (Amuru); Bunagana (Kisoro) connected in the first rollout.
UCC acting Executive Director Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo said the initiative to be implemented by Blue Crane Communications is part of a larger UCC overhaul on communication in line with the new broadband policy and the vision 2040.
The acting ED said the project would improve social services and ease of doing business at the border points thereby leading to social-economic transformation and increase in e-government and e-commerce at the entry points.
Mr. George Waigumbulizi, Director at Blue Crane Communications promised a reliable bandwidth capacity of 5Mbps per user at the selected sites and said his company would be responsible for maintaining the connection for at least three years.
Mr. Nyombi Thembo, the Director RCDF said UCC is set to fund the project with UGX 900m over the next three years.
Under the terms of the scheme, he said, users would access free WIFI at a speed of 5Mbps for a maximum connection time of 1 hour per person at a given site.
The RCDF director said the plan would focus on places where connectivity is limited and for people who have trouble accessing the Internet services.
Once utilized and used, Mr. Thembo said a good experience will subsequently spur market demand which will drive uptake of broadband services.
In targeting border towns, UCC/RCDF recognised that people in transit areas have unique communication needs that can be addressed through access to public Wi-Fi hotspots as long as they own a Wi-Fi capable device. Wi-Fi in such locations is even more suitable and convenient because it doesn’t require a SIM card or existence of a subscription relationship with a service provider.
The project also aims to increase the number of ICT devices such as computers and smartphones in the area, as well as encourage digital literacy, thereby reducing the digital divide.