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Minister Tumwebaze Underscores Strategy to Bridge Digital Divide in Uganda

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The Minister of Information, stomach Communications Technology (ICT) and National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze has said that government is putting more emphasis on extending ICT infrastructure to cover all districts in the Country including major institutions like local government offices, health centers and educational institutions.

He said this will help supplement on the already existing private sector infrastructure networks in the move to narrow digital differences among citizens especially between the urban and the rural poor.

“We have ensured that we put in place a favorable policy and regulatory framework to further encourage private sector investment in ICT infrastructure. We are also encouraging the private sector to adopt innovative ways of deployment of infrastructure to achieve efficient use of resources,” Tumwebaze said.

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The Minister was speaking at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held Tuesday June 13, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The summit which was organized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was attended by different delegates from a number of countries across the world.

It brings together stakeholders to discuss and identify ways in which the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets can be achieved through leveraging on ICTs and deepening digital transformation.

Tumwebaze noted that Uganda has placed ICTs as one of the key drivers for the country’s growth and development because it realizes the immense benefits and opportunities that ICTs create for the economy and its citizens.

As of 2016, Tumwebaze said, the country had achieved 100% area coverage for radio broadcasting services while voice telephony stood at 85% at sub county level.

“With regard to usage, penetration of voice telephony and internet stands at 63.4% and 51.9% respectively, largely driven by the mobile revolution,” he added.

He noted that despite the progress, the country continues to struggle with gaps in critical areas like; ICT infrastructure; ICT skills and relevant content among others.

“It is for this reason that we value such high level fora like WSIS that provide an opportunity to all stakeholders to dialogue, share experiences and identify new ways to address the challenges that we are experiencing back home with regard to promoting usage and access to ICT,” he said.

The Minister who was escorted by some staff members from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) said that Uganda has integrated ICTs in the education system through embracing the use of ICTs in the delivery of the education curriculum.

This, he says, will help create awareness and build capacity of Uganda’s citizens, most of whom (70%) are below 35 years.

“In order to further promote the uptake of ICT services, the Government of Uganda is emphasizing the creation of an innovation driven ICT sector. We have further embarked on promoting the development of relevant local content to facilitate integration of ICTs in the social and economic sectors of Uganda,” he added.

Speaking to ChimpReports, Tumwebaze revealed that “the secretary general of ITU committed to send a team of top IT consultants to help us in our digital vision formulation and also look at our innovation progress with a view of identifying support areas. It’s promising.”

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