The scope and pace of development in any economy currently, according to Minister of ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze, is a function of revolutionary advances in ICTs.
The minister on that basis implored ICT stakeholders who today converged at Silver Springs Hotel, Bugolobi for East African Communications Organization(EACO) Congress Week to embrace breakthrough ideas targeting to provide better services to citizens in a faster, efficient and transparent manner.
“We need as each nation to embrace ICTs to not only meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other National and Regional targets but most importantly to provide better services to our citizens in a faster, efficient and transparent manner,” Tumwebaze remarked.
The workshop was attended by legislators, representatives from EACO, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), National Information Technology Authority (NITA) and Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) among others.
Tumwebaze, who “doubts that there will be a tomorrow to talk about other than that enabled by ICTs” informed the gathering that everyone has “a role to play in order to transform the existing digital divide into digital opportunities for national development and enhance regional integration.”
However much, there has been registered successes through application of ICTs in the areas of Education, trade/commerce, healthcare and so on, the minister notes, East Africa has a lot of unexploited potential.
“And as you may well know, ICT has no sectorial boundaries,” he said. “There is no sector that you can mention which does not rely on ICTs.”
Highlighting the guests about a recent ICT Stakeholders consultative workshop at Sheraton Hotel, Tumwebaze listed some of the advancees like the need for government systems integration and increasing access to government services online, enhancing universal access, promotion of local content, cost of broadband and the growing hate content on social media among others.
He therefore asked the stakeholders and experts to look at areas they could include in their discussions and guide on how to practically address them.
Tumwebaze pointed out challenges like “bridging the digital divide in a multi-lingual country like Uganda which has over 50 different languages.”
“Can we have search engines that accommodate all the languages spoken in a Country?” he asked.
“Unlike our colleagues in Rwanda and Tanzania who have a unifying language irrespective of literacy level, many of our different tribes cannot communicate with one another with ease,” he added.
Tumwebaze further pointed at the need to look at practical solutions for problems like protecting “our citizens from hate content without infringing on their right to free speech.”